UNR Fire Academy to Continue in The Red

University of Nevada, Reno
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The University of Nevada's problem-plagued Fire Science Academy is almost $38 million in debt and will continue to run in the red for another four years, according to a Board of Regents report.

Denise Baclawski, executive director of the academy, told a regents audit committee Wednesday that the academy near Carlin should begin making money in 2007.

The report blamed the academy's financial problems on low enrollment and an 18-month closure due to construction defects and groundwater contamination.

Poor marketing, the $27 million facility's remote location in Elko County and competition from other university fire academies also were blamed for disappointing enrollment at the Nevada facility.

The academy has 1,893 students this year, about 850 fewer than expected and far fewer than proponents projected when the academy opened in 1999 to train industrial firefighters from around the world.

Enrollment the first year was about 3,000 - far below the 8,000 that had been projected.

Proponents had maintained the academy would provide a $150 million benefit for northeast Nevada in its first 10 years of operation.

The report said the academy cost the University of Nevada, Reno, more than $30 million and has also run up more than $7 million in operating debt.

The Board of Regents approved using student fees to repay bonds floated to buy the facility in 2001. It had closed in 2000 due to construction problems, and reopened in May 2002.