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Legislators to discuss firefighters center

The Cattaraugus County Legislature's Public Safety Committee will hold a work session to hear the views of the Cattaraugus County Firefighters Association and volunteers on issues of training requirements and a proposed $5 million countywide training center in Little Valley.

Bob Bowen of East Otto, a member of the county Firefighters Association's new Legislative Committee, told legislators Wednesday that the training requirements proposed in a recent feasibility study are too steep.

He said many firefighters take the needed training but are not included in a survey that underestimates the percentage of firefighters who are trained to enter a burning building.

Bowen told the committee that more EMTs are needed to help firefighters and pointed out that training classes have been canceled because they are not conducted where volunteers can attend them. He suggested a new emergency services training center would not be used if it is built in Little Valley.

He pointed to an invitation from the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department for a training session at the City of Olean tower on Gargoyle Road that was described as condemned in the county-sponsored study.

He said fire companies don't know when training sessions are held and called for more communication with the volunteer organizations and the continuance of a state certification standard that the departments worked together to set up.

Ed Koorse, county emergency services director, who recently presented the results of the study and gained some support from legislators for construction of a new training center and the Emergency Services Building near the County Public Works offices, interrupted Bowen as he spoke to the committee.

"You misquoted the study," said Koorse, referring to training notices and Bowen's request for an inventory.

But several legislators interrupted the men before the heated argument escalated and insisted in fairness the discussion should continue later.

The committee members agreed to invite Bowen, Koorse, district emergency services coordinators, all legislators, Health Department representatives and representatives of the Chiefs Association to a meeting.

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