Four new public safety training centers underway

In 2007, Interact Business Group (IBG) was part of the creation of several new strategic safety training centers’ business plans. Each project presented unique challenges, so each plan met specific needs. Note the trend toward creating joint/shared facilities in the projects below.

Luzerne Community College, PA

After seven years the dream of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania emergency responders has finally become reality. Luzerne Community College (LCCC) broke ground on its new 15 million dollar state of the art first responder training center. The Interact Business Group provided Dean of Public Safety Training and Special Initiatives Karen Flannery and her staff with a custom strategic plan for facilities that, according to the LCCC officials, is “The most significant undertaking since our arrival here in Nanticoke [1967].”

The Luzerne County Community College Public Safety Training Institute will offer an estimated 4,000 first responders from ten counties the opportunity to get state of the art, hands-on training. The 34-acre site will include a five-story structured tactical burn building and drill tower, the institute’s headquarters with classrooms and storage facilities, an indoor shooting range, driving course, gas exposure training site, K-9 training area, helicopter landing pad and collapsible buildings. The facility will replace the inadequate training methods of the past.

Contra Costa County, CA

A long-term joint plan was developed for the Office of the Sheriff and the Contra Costa County (CCC) Fire Protection District. Per CCC Supervisor Susan Bonilla, “… you can probably save money because you are using the facility for multi-purposes.” A wave of the future, shared facilities is site and cost effective.

The proposed plan will offer opportunities for sheriff’s deputies and firefighters to train together in a new state of the art facility. They will replace their forty-year-old site and relocate the fire protection district’s administration and joint dispatch facilities to the new site.

Per CCC Sheriff Representative Dale Varady, “it embraces a shared emergency operations center; fire apparatus repair shop, a driving course, classroom space and a training tower.” Central location is desired because it will provide faster freeway access, and noise will not be an issue if located in a light industrial area. Per Assistant Fire Chief Rich Grace, “[it]… could be used for the entire region.”

Vacaville, CA

The Vacaville City Council authorized the fire chief to strike an agreement with IBG to create a plan to develop a joint plan for both fire and police departments.

After a detailed analysis by IBG, the following key points were identified: training needs, cost factors and logistical siting/size, necessary facility components, advantages of outside users (revenue potential), community events use, funding alternatives such as grants, development impact fees and leasing and the use of a three-phase build-out strategy.

Dependent upon the information garnered from the study the City staff opted to meet with the Solano Community College (SCC) District officials to discuss possibly locating the site at SCC’s 60-acre Vacaville campus site.

Portland, OR

This past year the Portland region went on a mission to pursue partnerships to enhance collaboration and communication among law enforcement agencies. Lt. Rod Lucich and Capt. Eric Hendricks of the police bureau’s training division, along with other officers, visited five facilities in five states to see what others in the field were doing. Meanwhile, other experts moved into the field to assess area agencies’ interests, cost options and site possibilities.

In the meantime, representatives from six other fire and police agencies from Washington and Oregon met with Portland police to discuss options and ideas. As Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto expressed, “We’re way overdue for a facility where we train cooperatively, especially in the metropolitan area.”

Mayor Potter foresees cost roughly in the $90 million to $100 million range, “including about $1 million for land.” His suggestion is to build in stages to “make the cost more palatable.” They are considering a 300 acre of land that could potentially be purchased in part below cost, with the remainder counted as a donation.

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