Fire Training

Brandon Shook mans a hose as members of the Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department practice blaze-battling techniques on a burning structure across the street from their station on Warrior Drive. The home was purchased by the department before they began training involving the inside of the building. When all the interior resources were exhausted they began exterior training as they make way for the company’s new state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar fire station. An adjacent house will be used for similar drills in the fall.

CRESAPTOWN — If you’re a fire department and you want to remove a building to make way for a new station, you don’t just tear it down, you burn it.

Having a couple of structures at their disposal was valuable training at the Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department on Warrior Drive. The department burned down a house that was used for firefighter training after all its interior resources where exhausted.

“We just outgrew our present building,” said Steve Kesner, president/deputy chief and co-chair of the new building committee — even with a 1987 addition of two bays and renovation of the older building by raising the ceiling and enlarging the doors to accommodate the trucks.

With the original building — built in 1935 — deteriorating, and an engineering study saying that the building is no longer feasible, something has to be done, he said.

“There are steel plates under some of the apparatus to distribute that weight,” said Kesner. “The building wasn’t built to withstand the fire engines that now weigh more than double what they did in 1977 when I started,” agreed fire chief and co-chair of the new building committee Dan Winter.

When he began volunteering with the department, fire engines weighed about 26,000 pounds and were 25 feet long. Now weighing in at 47,000 pounds and about 35 feet long, they just don’t fit. “There’s cracks in the floor and water leaks down to the lower level. We can’t wash the equipment inside,” said Winter.

So with a vision of a new station, the department decided to purchase houses beside the station and across the street. “We rented them out until just recently when we began training,” said Kesner.

“Before the structure fire, we did inside training,” said Kesner. The first of two homes to be removed was targeted with search and rescue, ventilation, working off ladders and extinguishing methods, valuable training that just can’t be matched outside real-world operations.

The second home on the property across from the current station is set for training operations beginning in early fall.

The department hopes to be able to raise enough money to have its new multimillion-dollar station open by the end of 2007. Members have not come up with an exact price tag yet, but only about 10 percent of the estimated cost of the project has been raised so far.

The company is looking to secure grants and loans in addition to its regular fund-raisers and county appropriation that every fire department receives. “We need to go forward and get it done,” said Winter.

“Seven apparatus bays will be able to house all of the current and future equipment needs, with room for expansion if necessary,” said Winter. The department has two advanced life support ambulances, two fire engines, one heavy rescue squad, one brush unit, two brush ATVs, a mass casualty trailer and a fire safe house for education — some of which is sitting outside because of lack of space.

Winter said they have taken tours of newer facilities in cities east and north of the area. “The building will be state-of-the-art,” added Kes-ner. Containing not only a communications room, stand-by lounge, training areas, administration offices, dining and shower areas, the new station will have bunk rooms to accommodate a future round-the-clock paid staff if necessary, or long-term stand-by crews for storms or disasters.

Contributions are being sought and can be mailed to Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 5129, Cresaptown, MD 21505. Additional information about the fire department can be found at www.cresaptownvfd.org.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, too,” said Winter.

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