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Municipalities pitch in for fire training center

July 10, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Washington Township, the Borough of Chambersburg and Fannett Township have pledged $1 per resident toward a $450,000 training center for volunteer firefighters in Franklin County, Pa.

The Franklin County Commissioners will match each dollar from the county's 22 townships and boroughs, said Commissioners President G. Warren Elliott.

Kenneth North, training chairman for the Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association, the group seeking the center, said he believes all the municipalities will support the project.

"We want them to put the money in their budget for next year," said commissioner Cheryl Plummer. "It's important to emphasize that Franklin County relies on its volunteers for fire protection. This facility will allow them to get their training close to home."

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The nearest facility that offers simulation training is in Harrisburg, Pa. Local volunteers must take their own fire trucks and equipment, leaving less protection back home, Plummer said.

North estimates that there are about 800 active firefighters in Franklin County's 18 departments.

If all of the municipalities contribute, it will mean about $130,000, or $1 for each county resident. The commissioners will match that to bring the total to $260,000.

That sum will be added to a $100,000 donation made to the chiefs association in 1995 by local Realtor Isadore Gargara.

Gargara, who died last year, donated the money to promote training and education of the county's volunteer firefighters, North said.

Elliott said the rest of the money will come from a direct public appeal and grants.

North wants to start construction later this year or in early 1999. The center will be built on five acres donated by the Franklin County Career and Technology Center on Loop Road.

Key to the center will be a structure that can be set afire repeatedly to simulate actual firefighting conditions, North said.

Elliott said the project was languishing until two weeks ago, when the commissioners came up with the idea to ask each municipality for a $1 per capita donation as the fairest way to raise money. A letter requesting the donations was sent to all the municipalities, he said.

North said he became optimistic for the project's success when rural Fannett Township made its pledge. He said if a small community like that can do it, others will, too.

Georgia O'Donnell, secretary for the Fannett Township Supervisors, said the township's share will be $2,390 based on its population. "The supervisors thought it was a good idea," she said.

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