WCRTF counting on community support to finish facilities

WCRTF counting on community support to finish facilities

Firefighters and other first responders get extensive training at the Wayne County Regional Training Facility in Apple Creek.


It's the middle of the night. The smoke alarm goes off, or someone in the family becomes ill. You dial 9-1-1, and help arrives. Where did those first responders get the extensive training required to be able to help the community in so many ways? Odds are good they got at least some of that training at the Wayne County Regional Training Facility.

Quietly nestled on 60 donated acres in Apple Creek, the WCRTF has been in the midst of the Community Helping Instructors Educate Firefighters capital campaign for several years. As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the facility relies heavily on monetary donations and donations of goods and services.

Since beginning their fundraising, several projects have been completed including a burn building, water-training site and education center.

"While we have made so many great strides and amazing changes, we are still working to complete the campaign," said Erica Springer, the executive director of the Wayne County Regional Training Facility. "The remaining projects for the campaign include building the emergency vehicle operations course area, parking lot and driveway, and the fire sprinkler system and pump house for the education center."

While naming opportunities are available to a large donor for the course, donations of any amount are needed and welcome. "The course will be used by all types of organizations," Springer said, "not just fire and EMS."

Law enforcement, bus companies and others will be among those to use the vehicle operations area.

Part of the reason for this second push for the CHIEF campaign is the price increases that many industries have seen during the pandemic, especially with construction materials.

"COVID-19 really put us back on everything with construction delays and cost increases," Springer said. "Our original estimates have increased."

Dallas B. Terrell is the Wayne County Regional Training Facility capital campaign chairman and the fire chief of Wooster Township Fire Department. "People come to us for training, and when it's completed, they are the responders answering the calls for help and providing services to our community," Terrell said.

"Not everyone understands what it takes to become a firefighter or emergency medical technician," Springer said. "We're able to train people locally and are set up so students with a full-time job can take classes."

Terrell said the WCRTF is unique in many ways, providing service to the people of Wayne County and beyond. Without the WCRTF, local career and volunteer first responders would have to travel out of the area for training, increasing both travel time and expenses.

"This project is extremely important for public safety in Wayne County," Terrell said. "We can't give up. It's got to be completed."

There is no comparable facility in Ohio or neighboring states, Terrell said. Because of that, first responders have come from all over the country to attend trainings and classes.

In addition to regularly scheduled fire and EMS classes, a variety of professionals and groups use the extensive facilities on a regular basis. SWAT teams, police, K-9's, and search and rescue dogs are all able to utilize the various buildings, equipment and props for hands-on skills training. Additionally, area schools, Scout troops, houses of worship, civic groups and industry all make use of many of the facility resources.

User fees are another source of income, and when not in use for WCRTF trainings and classes, the new education center provides a rental option for everything from corporate seminars to holiday parties. "We've even had one wedding here," Springer said.

"The opportunities with the education center are absolutely endless," Terrell said.

The center houses a 150-seat auditorium, kitchen, classrooms, conference room, computer lab and administrative offices.

"Hopefully, we can get the campaign wrapped up," Terrell said. "It's been going on seven years including the planning process. Our original goals and needs have not changed. It's just that costs have gone up."

The WCRTF and area first responders are hopeful the community will continue to offer their support and donations. "It's crazy to see what you can accomplish when you have the support of the community. We are so blessed," Terrell said.

To donate to the Wayne County Regional Training Facility CHIEF capital campaign, mail checks to WCRTF, 2725 S. Millborne Road, Apple Creek, OH 44606. For more information, to arrange a tour, or to inquire about facility rental, credit-card donations or in-kind donations of goods or services, call Springer at 330-698-3473 or email wcrtf@hotmail.com.

"Think of the primary focus and mission of the WCRTF and then of all the additional organizations, agencies and businesses who have used it in so many ways," Terrell said. "And it's all done with no tax dollars."

Individuals or groups interested in seeing the WCRTF are invited to call or email Springer and arrange a tour. "We truly could not do this without the support of the community," she said.

Find the Wayne County Regional Training Center at www.wcfra.com.

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