BETHLEHEM — On May 29, 2012, Senate Bill 291 for the appropriation to establish a North Country Fire Training Facility was signed. The Department of Safety established a committee composed of fire chiefs and firefighters from throughout the North Country to determine the needs and location of a training facility.
A site in Bethlehem, located within 60 miles of all of the targeted municipalities, was chosen based on location, cost of development, existing infrastructure and community acceptance. This 12.1 acre lot will be the home of a new four story burn building, as well as a classroom building consisting of a small conference/meeting room, a 35-40 student classroom and a field office. This is being renovated from an existing garage.
There had been discussion regarding the naming of the new facility, followed by an overwhelming agreement and acceptance of bestowing this honor on Executive Councilor Raymond Burton, who passed away on November 12, 2013. An item put forward by Governor Maggie Hassan resulted in a unanimous vote by Burton's fellow Council members, who decided that the new facility will be named, "Raymond S. Burton North Country Fire and EMS Training Facility."
"For decades, Ray Burton has provided unmatched dedication and public service to the people of the North Country and all of New Hampshire," Governor Hassan said. "Councilor Burton has steadfastly stood watch on behalf of the North Country and its people, and it is fitting to name this new facility in Ray Burton's honor as it seeks to train future generations of public servants to watch over and protect our communities."
"This facility will meet the needs of many fire and EMS agencies in the North Country. Through certification classes held there, these folks can receive the knowledge and skills necessary to allow them to respond to the emergency needs of their communities safely and efficiently. I also envision the site being used for community CPR and first aid classes as well as a meeting area for regional emergency management planning," said Deborah Pendergast, Director of NH Division of Fire Standards & Training and EMS. "We are so pleased to name our facility after Councilor Burton who is such a strong advocate for not only the needs of the citizens in his district, but of the needs of the emergency responders."
The burn building is scheduled to be complete by the end of January. Plans for the classroom building renovation are well underway with some demolition having being completed to date. That portion of the project should wrap up some time this spring at which time there will be a formal ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony.