MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – The site of where an old Middletown trash incinerator once ran may seem like an unlikely place to find a center of education, but its on a spot just like that which has been helping firefighters who work in Middlesex County train for the last 24 years. On Friday class was in session.
This round of instruction brought together two different fire departments to the regional fire school, one from downtown Middletown, the other from the city’s South District. Those taking part practiced coordinating their efforts should disaster strike.
Michael Howley, a captain with South Fire District, says it’s important crews retain what they’re learning because part of the exercise required they demolish their classroom.
“We cut many holes in the roof, in the classroom section we’ve been breaching walls, giving the fire fighter some experience they don’t get to do every day,” said Howley.
It will be a long time before the firefighters that took part get a chance to do something like this again as the school is set to be taken down in order to make room from a new sewage pump. There are plans to build a new school on Mile Lane but fire officials say that would cost around $10-million and given the state’s current fiscal situation it isn’t likely the project will get off the ground anytime soon.
“It will have an impact on us that’s for sure,” said Jay Waron, director of training for the Middlesex County Fire School.
Waron says with no place in the county for firefighters to practice their trade like they have been able to do at the current school, departments in the county will have to go elsewhere. Waron thinks that will put a further strain on already hard to find municipal resources.
“Unfortunately it will cost those towns and fire departments a little more to train because we’ll have to rent out facilities,” said Waron.
Waron says one of the consequences for firefighters is they will receive less training, a far from ideal situation that the first responders we met say they aren’t going to let compromise public safety.