Bucksport Marine Fire Training Center to finally begin construction after pandemic delays

The Maine Maritime Academy plans to open a fire training facility soon on the site of the former Bucksport paper mill, which would allow students and professional sailors to practice putting out fires in shipboard conditions.

The project has been plagued by delays due to the ongoing pandemic, but the academy launched it this month and expects construction of the four-story facility at its professional development center recently opened sailors to be completed by the end of the year. .

The 3,500 square foot building will be the last and – for now at least – the latest addition to MMA’s development center, which opened in 2020 on the factory site to help sailors in Nova Scotia. England to keep their certifications up to date.

In 2019, the academy estimated it could have state-of-the-art firefighting by spring 2020, but those plans were scuttled with the pandemic. The academy later hoped to begin construction last summer before being delayed again. Students are now expected to try the facility for the first time in early 2023.

The building will be able to mimic the growing and dying fires on a boat to meet the certification needs of many sailors, said Peter Stewart, academy facilities manager and Bucksport City Council member. There is no other such facility in eastern Maine, and possibly in the entire state.

“Sailors will be able to get this training closer to home,” he said.

The building could also be used to practice firefighting in homes and other buildings on land.

Local West Hancock County fire chiefs said having such a facility in their backyard would be a huge benefit.

“That would certainly be welcome,” Bucksport Deputy Fire Chief Michael Denning said. “We look forward to them commissioning their facility.”

Currently the nearest land firefighting training center is at Ellsworth and it is impractical to bring Bucksport Fire Department equipment and personnel there, leaving their local post in understaffed.

The addition to the Career Development Center could also help attract more people from across New England to Bucksport, a town that reinvented itself after the paper mill closed and hundreds of people lost their jobs. , according to Stewart.

“Any time we can get people into town, it’s an absolute help for our businesses,” he said.

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