EDITORIAL: Fire training: Go regional

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Questions need to be asked and answered in South Beloit.

DOES SOUTH BELOIT need to build a training center for its fire department?

Chief Ken Morse asked the city council for $34,300 to buy engineering services for what he says would include a training tower, a classroom building, auto extrication facilities, a trench rescue unit and more. The council approved.

At this time itís unknown how much it would cost to build the actual facility, planned for land located behind the current fire station on Gardner Street. Clearly, these things do not come cheap. But Morse optimistically projects the facility could be paid for by grants and fundraising activities, not local taxes.

THEREíS AN OLD SAYING: ďDonít build a church for Easter.Ē Meaning, obviously, itís wise to be cautious and not over-build the real needs.

Weíre not concluding Chief Morseís idea is a bad one.

But itís hard not to wonder why South Beloit needs a special training center for firefighters when others exist in the immediate area. The Town of Beloit, of course, has its Survive Alive house which has been used by other departments over the years. And the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department has an extensive training facility ó complete with tower ó on Willowbrook Road just outside the South Beloit city limits. Other training facilities exist fairly nearby as well, in Rockford, Madison and elsewhere.

Lip service often is given to mounting a regional approach to government, for efficiencies of scale and to save taxpayer dollars. Training facilities seem like a natural to benefit multiple communities and agencies, rather than the go-it-alone direction. The right questions need to be asked.

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