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Stafford eyes new site for training
Proposed fire training area moves from Courthouse Road to U.S. 1

Date published: 9/24/2012

BY KATIE THISDELL

Earlier this summer, Stafford County's Fire & Rescue Department was all set to revamp its training ground on Courthouse Road by installing a variety of simulators.

But over the past month, that 3.9-acre site has been deemed inappropriate for fire training programs.

Acting Chief Mark Lockhart said the department is looking at other county-owned land that could be used instead, in particular, property between the county's Rowser Building and the Rappahannock Regional Jail off U.S. 1.

Stafford is getting quotes from contractors on what it will take to get the site ready for use by the fire department, Lockhart told the Board of Supervisors' public safety committee Tuesday.

The simulators teach trainees fire behavior and conditions that cause flashover (the dangerous point at which everything may combust at once); how to ventilate a burning building and forcible entry techniques, as well as ways to fight a car fire.

Concerns about the safety and location of the original site on Courthouse Road prompted county officials to look for other properties, Assistant Chief Mark Doyle said in an interview.

Doyle said the location is not appropriate because it is near Colonial Forge High School and the planned Embrey Mill subdivision.

Improvements to the Courthouse Road and Interstate 95 interchange may also require some of the land, Doyle said. Because of those issues, it's unlikely there would be room to grow at that location.

"We'd hate to commit to that site and a couple years down the road find out, hey, we've outgrown it, or that 630 Courthouse Road would go through it," Doyle said. "That's why we're taking it easy right now."

There are also safety concerns for fire apparatus entering and exiting the property, which had been purchased for training because of an abandoned building that sits there. That was recently knocked down.

County Administrator Anthony Romanello said there likely aren't any other general government uses for the land.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975
Email: kthisdell@freelancestar.com