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Lewis County fire training center gets upgrades

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MARTINSBURG — Lewis County’s fire coordinator hopes to continue making small improvements to the county’s fire training center after it was spruced up by an Eagle Scout service project over the summer.

“For the next couple of years, we want to put some money into it and expand on what we have,” Fire Coordinator James M. Martin said.

In the spring, Mr. Martin said, he would like to seed the area around the buildings at the Howard Jantzi Memorial Training Center off Glendale Road in the town of Martinsburg. Other projects could include installation of a gate at the entrance to the property and addition of gravel to provide a larger area on which to park firetrucks and other vehicles, he said.

A long-term goal would be construction of an education building at the site so both classroom and hands-on training could be conducted at the same place, but “that’s not in the near future,” Mr. Martin said.

Classroom training sessions are now held in fire halls throughout the county.

Steven C. McHarg, Castorland, a senior patrol leader with Boy Scout Troop 162 in Lowville, earlier this year completed a project at the fire training center that included erection of a wooden storage shed, installation of new force-entry doors to replace broken ones and cleaning of a combustible materials pond.

The shed will allow firefighters to train in the other buildings on site without having to first remove pallets, tools and other gear stored inside them.

“He’s got a lot of dedicated time into it,” Mr. Martin said. “It was a good project. It was something we really needed done.”

Steven, son of state fire instructor David C. McHarg, told legislators at a recent meeting that he and other volunteers spent 706.5 hours in planning and execution of the project. Fundraising efforts netted $2,640, and an additional $1,455.27 worth of supplies were donated toward the effort, he said.

The Eagle Scout candidate specifically thanked Mr. Martin and his son, Matt, for putting together the shed kit and Legislator Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, owner of Paulie’s Meat and Seafood Market in Lowville, for being the most generous donor.

The fire coordinator said that even some firefighters from neighboring counties have used the site here for training, and continued upgrades would make it even more beneficial for area volunteers.

“There is a lot of opportunity there,” Mr. Martin said. “I think the fire service should appreciate what we have.”

The training center was dedicated in August 1989, with a three-story cinder-block fire training tower constructed that year using a $50,000 state grant.

County legislators in February 2007 accepted the seven-acre property, just south of Whittaker Park, from the Lewis County Firemen’s Association Inc. and Barbara Jantzi. Mrs. Jantzi had granted the land to the association in memory of her late husband, Howard R., a former Lewis County deputy fire coordinator and Martinsburg fire chief who died in 1986.

After taking over the property, the county made several upgrades to the facility, including the addition of a single-story burn building for interior firefighter training.

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