Cumberland Times-News

August 20, 2013

Mineral firefighters propose burn building

Association wants training facility at Fort Ashby Industrial Park

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — During the Mineral County Development Authority meeting on Tuesday, Chad Lindsay, president of the Mineral County Firefighters Association, requested a space in the Fort Ashby Industrial Park for a burn building to train firefighters.

Dave Boden, authority president, said the use of building would bring people into the park, would be good for economic development and it would put the park “on the map.”

“I think from our perspective, that’s a big plus that we should not undersell,” said Boden. “I hope you are busy and other counties know and use it.”

Lindsay indicated a burn building was imperative to the training of firefighters.

“The better equipped, the better training and the more efficient we make our firemen, the better chance we have of saving your house,” said Lindsay. “We need this to make our firemen superior trained so they can do their job.”

The building, which would simulate conditions in a structure fire, would likely be located on 3.1 acres in the park.

“The lot they are interested in the industrial park is a subprime lot. It’s not ideal for commercial development,” said Jerry Whisner, authority member.  

Several authority members spoke in favor of Lindsay’s request.

“One good thing about this from an economic standpoint, from a business standpoint, we will have fire companies coming in from all over the area. They will be stopping at the restaurants in the area,” said Whisner. “To me it sounds like a win-win situation.”

The authority and Lindsay were in agreement that the park is in a central location for the firefighters.

“We like that spot for the simple fact that it’s a central location for everybody that wants to use it,” said Lindsay. “We are trying to use the lot to save ourselves some money.”

Currently, Allegany County is paid to do the pump testing on Mineral County’s fire trucks and the facility would allow the testing to be done in-house, according to Lindsay.

Lindsay is proposing that the building would likely be made of concrete with the possibility of expansion in five years. Lindsay estimates that the structure can be built for $150,000 with the aid of grants.

The Keyser Industrial Park was suggested as a possible location for the burn building but for some it was too far to travel for training.

“We have a lot entities interested in this if we put it in the Fort Ashby end,” said Lindsay.

Mona Ridder, MCDA executive director, indicated that she spoke with Chris Liller, who is a tennant in the park, and he voiced concerns about smoke and frequency in which the building would be used. Lindsay indicated that fog machines are used to create smoke.

“There is not a bunch of smoke, we aren’t burning wood,” said Lindsay.  “It’s illegal to burn manmade products, so we don’t do that. You don’t see real smoke anymore unless there is a house burning.”

The building would be located on the lower portion of the lot and would be obstructed from view of other areas in the park, according to Whisner.

The association will be liable for the insurance associated with the building, according to Lindsay.

 Terry Liller, authority member, said the only downside he saw to the request was the potential for the public to misunderstand the purpose of the burn building.

“It might mean we have to explain the nature of it to someone who is coming in,” said Liller.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.