Maryland Fire and Rescue opens new training site on Aberdeen Proving Ground
October 19, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Oct. 19, 2011 -- After 21 years on a site bordering Aberdeen Proving Ground's Phillips airfield, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute North East Regional Training Center recently relocated to a new building and training site at APG North (Edgewood).
The building officially opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 10. Guests included Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commander of APG and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, and Steven T. Edwards, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, or MFRI, director.
The Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute of the University of Maryland is the state's fire and emergency service training agency providing comprehensive training and education systems for emergency services. Volunteer firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians from Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties train at the site, according to Richard Armstrong, MFRI regional coordinator who leads the Edgewood site.
Armstrong said the MFRI, which originally opened on APG in 1990, had to relocate due to planned expansion of Aberdeen Test Center test tracks. The new facility is more spacious with modern technologies, he said.
A retired Baltimore City firefighter with 30 years experience, Armstrong leads the facility staff of four personnel who include Tracy Bennett, administrative assistant and technicians Richard White and Jon Bender. Armstrong is employed by the University of Maryland and has been with the MFRI since 1999.
"Fortunately, we had the money to rebuild and now we have a larger, newer, location with additional facilities, more classrooms and better audio visuals and training areas," he said.
The main building consists of four classrooms, three with moveable walls to expand or reduce the room size, and a "sturdy" classroom with a cement floor and equipment racks in an attached
garage; as well as a large break room and kitchen area.
Outdoor facilities on the fenced-in site consist of platform stations for practicing forced entry; a burning building, fire extinguisher use; gas fires, automobile extrication, and a man-made pond
surrounds the pumping station. In addition, APG firefighters and emergency medical responders regularly train at the facility, Armstrong said.
"We do a lot with APG firefighters. They're very good to work with and they've been a real help to us," he said.
He said the importance of the facility cannot be over emphasized.
"The MFRI provides a place to train in a safe environment," he said. "Training like this gives the feel and experience of a real event. We emphasize safety at all times but responders need to
know how it feels before it happens."
The institute plans, researches, develop, and delivers quality programs to enhance the ability of emergency services providers to protect life, property and the environment.
Over 400 certified instructors serving as part-time faculty support more than 50 full-time faculty and staff members. MFRI programs rely on the knowledge and resources of the University of Maryland system for service and assistance to serve the people of Maryland.