Kingston, N.Y. – The Ulster County Fire Service, which includes 50 departments throughout the County, is one step closer to having comprehensive county-wide training at a state-of-the-art fire training center. A fire training center was proposed as part of County Executive Mike Hein’s comprehensive F.I.R.S.T. (Firefighter, Investment, Recruitment, Service, and Training) Program. The F.I.R.S.T. Program formed the Ulster County Fire Training Center Task Force that made an initial recommendation to locate the Fire Training Center on a site off of Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge. As part of this open process and following concerns expressed by neighbors, the County Executive directed the County Planning Department with assistance from members of the Fire Service to conduct a Site Alternative Analysis. That Report is now complete and recommends a shared services network plan to the Ulster County Legislature.
Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive
“Our First Responders do a tremendous job responding to emergencies and keeping us all safe even in the face of grave danger. I want to thank the Ulster County Fire Services for their cooperation and support through the process of developing a county-wide training program. We have an obligation, as a county, to make the very best training available to them,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “We also have a strong commitment to be responsive to the concerns of the public in making choices about how to meet this obligation. I want to thank those individuals who came forward and expressed their concerns after the initial site selection. The resulting Site Alternative Analysis is an example of my administration’s willingness to listen and respond. This process is truly an example of democracy and responsive government at work and I am proud that by listening and reconsidering we now have the best of all options to provide our firefighters with the training that meets their needs while simultaneously addressing the concerns of the public.”
Any comprehensive fire training program includes a significant amount of classroom instruction and the centrally located SUNY Ulster campus will play a pivotal role in that aspect of training. In order to take advantage of the location of SUNY Ulster and its classroom and administrative space while also eliminating any potential for onsite burning or noise associated with extrication training, the shared services network plan will develop satellite facilities that will host live burn and extrication trainings. Neither of those types of training will take place on the SUNY Ulster campus. The first satellite facility would be located at the existing Town of Ulster training site on Ulster Landing Road. The shared services network also looks to develop a second satellite in the southern half of the county so all fire departments regardless of their geographic location, have an accessible and convenient training location available to them. The County has identified the current training facility in Walker Valley as a potential second satellite to handle burning and extrication training. The County would make investments to improve and upgrade both facilities. The shared services option also follows the national trend of associating training facilities of this nature with colleges.
The shared services network plan was designed to alleviate neighborhood concerns about the initial Cottekill Road site. In addressing these concerns the new plan continues to provide for the best possible training for our brave firefighters. Environmental concerns regarding the Cottekill Road land are addressed by not utilizing any of the 50+ acres of the site and leaving it completely untouched. As SUNY Ulster will host classroom, non-burn and non-extrication training, the quality of life issues surrounding smoke and noise are addressed. Finally, anticipated traffic going to and from the college will be reduced compared to the original plan with only 3-4 fire apparatus travelling on Cottekill Road for training.
Steve Peterson, Director of Ulster County Emergency Management/Services
“Having a Site Alternative Analysis developed under the direction of County Executive Hein has provided a solution that will enhance training for emergency services personnel throughout the County while addressing the concerns of the public. I’m looking forward to completing this project as it is vital to emergency services personnel and I thank County Executive Hein for his leadership, said Steve Peterson, Director of Ulster County Emergency Management/Services.
Everett Erichsen, Deputy Director of Ulster County Emergency Management/Services
“In response to today’s demands and the changes in today’s fires, it requires that today’s firefighter be knowledgeable and well trained,” said Everett Erichsen, Deputy Director of Ulster County Emergency Management/Services. “We must always strive to enhance the training our firefighters receive and ensure that the public is receiving the best fire protection and prevention possible. I commend the County Executive for recognizing the importance of providing a fire training center that will have the facilities to cultivate firefighters with this knowledge and training.”
Dave Gutierrez, Chief of West Hurley Fire Department
“The Ulster County Fire Services have needed coordinated, centralized training for years and I commend County Executive Mike Hein for continuing to move toward providing firefighters with the essential training we need while also taking into account the concerns of the public; this is an example of responsive government at its best,” said Dave Gutierrez, Chief or West Hurley Fire Department.
County Executive Hein’s Ulster County F.I.R.S.T. Program includes the evolution of the current Fire Coordinator position into a full-time one including an integral centralized training role; enhanced training by the construction of state of the art fire training facilities that will be available to all departments within the county and which will be linked to SUNY Ulster; a dedicated, credit-bearing firematic course of study offered on the SUNY Ulster college campus; grant funding to allow volunteer firefighters to attend SUNY Ulster without cost to them; and available updated fiscal and insurance training, annually, for all departments.