YARMOUTH — To offer even better live training, the Fire Department has received a $440,000 grant to build a new training facility at the Transfer Station off East Main Street.

But Fire Chief Michael Robitaille is hoping the Town Council will agree to provide supplemental funding in the amount of $85,000 to add a three- to four-story tower and allow firefighters in the region to better prepare for situations that require ladder trucks.

The Yarmouth Fire Department is hoping to build a new training facility, similar to the one shown here, that would include a three- to four-story tower. Contributed

The new facility would also offer multiple burn rooms, as well as the opportunity to conduct required confined space training, Robitaille said this week.

He said the grant to fund the new structure came from the Maine Fire Protection Services. It was the first time such grant funds have been available to fire departments across the state and Yarmouth was one of the towns selected to receive the money earlier this summer.

However, it’s not quite enough to cover the cost of adding a tower, which is why Robitaille is asking councilors to consider appropriating extra funds from the ambulance reimbursement account. He said using the ambulance money means there would be no extra burden on taxpayers to pay for the tower.

Robitaille said Yarmouth already has a fire training facility, which multiple fire departments from Scarborough to Raymond rely on to train their firefighters. However, but the fire protection grant will allow the town to modernize the training that can be offered while also allowing access by multiple departments at the same time.

“I would say ours is the most used fire training facility in the state,” Robitaille said this week.

The site now provides 16,000 training hours a year and he anticipates it will become even more in demand with the new, updated facility, which could open by May 2020.

He said Yarmouth is part of an 11-community Coastal Mutual Aid Training Association that includes most neighboring communities. Right now each of the fire departments in the association pays $500 a year to use Yarmouth’s fire training facility. With the new facility, that annual fee will go up to $750, Robitaille said.

In addition, Robitaille said other departments that don’t belong to the training association pay $100 a day to access the Yarmouth site. With those fees, as well as the possibility of saving some money on site preparation costs, Robitaille said he might not need the full $85,000 he’s requesting.

“My goal is to keep the costs down as much as I can,” he said this week.

The Town Council was set to discuss the supplemental funding request during a workshop scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 5, at the Log Cabin, 196 Main St.

Robitaille said the goal would be for Yarmouth to keep the building it has while adding the new one, which will be constructed by Fire Facilities Inc. The Wisconsin-based company is the contractor chosen by Maine Fire Protection Services to erect the building.

Robitaille said when Yarmouth received the grant for the new fire training facility he wasn’t aware a tower could be added to the structure.

While the Fire Department attempts to make improvements to the training facility on a regular basis, the building is outdated and quite small, he said, and there’s only one live burn room at the location, which first became used for fire training more than 30 years ago.

Robitaille also said if the tower is added, it wouldn’t just benefit local firefighters.

With the upgrade, he might be able to bump Yarmouth’s fire insurance rating up from Class 4 to Class 3, which Robitaille hopes could lower insurance costs for homeowners.

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