George Kling, president of the board of the Evergreen Fire Protection District, says the fire training facility in progress at Fire Station 2 is a long-term goal that is being realized.
“We still believe that this is the right decision for the community,” Kling said. “This has been on the book since 1995.”
Since the fire board first started considering the project, it has been reduced from a $1.2 million expenditure to $500,000, he said.
“Our volunteer model works well for the community,” Kling said of the Evergreen firefighters. “By being able to train in that facility, they’ll be better trained. They are professional volunteers because the community supports this effort. My job is to proactively foster that relationship.”
Kling has served on the fire district board nearly five years. When he decided to seek another term in 2012, Kling said, his goals were to hire a new fire chief, install a new radio system and build a new fire training facility.
He ran unopposed in the last election, but is now facing a challenge from candidates in the recall election next month.
Kling has extensive experience with fire department service. When he was 17 years old, he began training to be a firefighter.
He worked his way through college at Auburn University as a paid firefighter for the city of Auburn and for a smaller fire department in Lee County, Ala.
After graduating from college and beginning a career as a corporate and commercial airline pilot, Kling continued serving as a volunteer firefighter with four departments.
He was a captain in the Evergreen Fire Department after moving to the community with his wife, Julie, in 2001.
As a member of the fire district board, Kling said he has seen the department grow from 60 volunteer firefighters in 2007 to more than 90 now in service.
The training facility is not only for the firefighters but for the welfare of the community, Kling said while addressing the controversy surrounding it.
“We believe that we were acting in the best interests of the citizens,” said Kling. “We were elected to do that job.”
Evergreen residents will benefit from well-trained firefighters, he said. If the training facility helps to save one life or one home, it will be worth the expenditure, Kling added.
Objections to the fire training facility have been based on perceived irritants and aesthetic considerations, he said.
The fire district board members listened to citizen concerns about the proposed facility during 57 meetings held for countless hours this past year, said Kling.
The five board members were unanimous in their vote for and support of the facility, he noted. During the subsequent protest from residents, Kling said that he reviewed his decision and came to the conclusion that it was a good choice.
Contact Sandy Barnes at email@example.com or call 303-350-1042.