Site walk for proposed York County first responder training center set for Oct. 16
ALFRED – York County government’s plan to build an all-hazards first responder training center will improve local department’s recruiting ability and bolster the skills of recruits who would be able to get training close to home, county officials say.
On Sept. 18, members of the Alfred Planning Board voted unanimously that the project application was complete - the first step in the municipal permitting process. Planning Board members will conduct a public site walk at the location - a land parcel it owns adjacent to York County Jail on Route 4 - at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16, with a public hearing to be scheduled at a later date.
The county has also filed applications for permits with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and with the Maine Department of Transportation.
In November 2022, York County government and York County Community College signed a memorandum of understanding - a collaboration that states the two entities will develop plans and programs to meet the need for additional firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement officers, dispatchers, corrections officers, and other emergency personnel.
The training center would be the first of its kind in Maine.
Planning Board members asked about the amount of water usage in firefighting training – the project includes a four-story burn tower - along with what time of day training would be scheduled, and who will be trained and the like.
York County Fire Administrator Roger Hooper said the first responder training center will first focus on York County, but there may be opportunities with other nearby counties.
County Manager Greg Zinser said other counties have expressed interest, but that York County is the focal point.
Planning Board member Owen Brochu asked if those in training would stay overnight if the program was a two-day event.
“There will be no dormitories,” said Hooper.
Hooper said little water would be used in training, and that the county will construct a 12-foot deep, lined pond, as a water supply. Civil engineer Wade Lippert of Oak Point Associates, which has been engaged by the county, said there will be no interaction with the aquifer. He said, any ground water would be well below the depth of the pond. Lippert said there would be a well on the site used to refresh the pond if there is a dry season.
According to the planning board, Alfred Water District, which services the area, has expressed concern about water usage.
“We are not expecting a significant draw,” Lippert said. He said the water used in training would drain back into the pond.
Hooper said he expects most training would take place during the day, but he pointed out in the fire service, there are still several volunteer and call departments in York County and so expected there could be some evening and weekend training.
The all hazards first responder training center would be built largely with part of the county’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act.
There were questions about traffic - planning board members noted a new housing community, Alfred Crossing, aimed at those 55 and older would be located nearby.
Zinser said Alfred Crossing was taken into consideration on traffic counts. While the traffic movement permit with the Maine Department of Transportation is in process, in said in general, initial terms, he expects there would be a left- and right-hand turn lanes into the property.