Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Fire Protection

Adley pushing Camp Minden funds

State Sen. Robert Adley is making sure Camp Minden doesn't go up in smoke.

Senate Bill 285 would provide $50,000 per year for the Camp Minden Fire Protection Fund to pay for fire protection provided by Bossier Parish Fire District 1.

"It's obviously a good thing for us to have fire protection," said Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kazmierzak. "Especially with the hopeful growth of the post, with the expansion of the (Regional Training Institute) and other facilities, along with all of the civilian contractors that work there."

The $50,000 would come from State Fire Marshal surplus funds.

"Money collected from fire insurance premiums goes to the State Fire Marshal and that money is dedicated in various places for fire protection," Adley said. "So you're not creating a new dedication, you are dedicating inside that dedication a payment for one of the largest state facilities."

Because Camp Minden does not have a dedicated fire-fighting force, BPFD 1 was contracted to provide those services using mostly equipment located on post.

In prior years, Adley had to find money in the budget and go through the legislative process to secure it.

Each year, he also sponsored similar bills to cement the money into statute and provide reliable funding for Camp Minden fire protection. Those bills did not make it through the legislature.

"I think it looks better than it has before," Adley said. "I think people now realize that this is going to be an ongoing expense for Camp Minden."

He said confusion over how the funds were dedicated caused problems in the past but was no longer an issue.

"I think that people finally understand that is what is truly happening here," Adley said. "I think that has finally helped us get the message across."

Having passed the Senate 36 to one and the House 94 to zero, SB 285 now only needs concurrence from the Senate and signatures from House Speaker, Senate President and Governor.

Funding support for Camp Minden is coming from more than the state level.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu was able to move the funds for Phase II of RTI, from the 2017 to the 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations.

"Phase I is complete. We're already training soldiers and it's going very well," Kazmierzak said. "Phase II will be a further expansion of our ability to train soldiers.

"We train all components of the service – that's the intent of the RTI concept," he continued. "It stands as a testament to how far the Guard has come."

According to Landrieu, completion of the project would reduce an Army-wide backlog of thousands of soldiers requiring Non-Commissioned Officer Training.

"With so many soldiers waiting to fulfill their training requirements, it only makes sense to move forward with plans to expand this facility," she said.

If funding ultimately goes through, Camp Minden will be host to soldiers from all over the region and the country.

Landrieu included a provision that priority is given to projects that have completed their first phase.

She also included provisions to improve response to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The legislation strongly encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with community-based and intermediary organizations to help develop pilot programs to address the issues, according to Landrieu.

It has passed the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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