If you are PLANNING a new Police or Fire Training Center
If you are PARTNERING to build a new Regional Public Safety Training Center
If you are RENOVATING an existing Police or Fire Training Center
If you do not have LAND for a Police or Fire Training Center
If you do not have MONEY for a Police or Fire Training Center
If any of the above is true, read on…..
If you are planning a new training center, most likely it’s your first time. And in most cases it will be your last time. A Public Safety Training Center, for police and fire departments is a once-in-a-career project. If you are an Administrative or Facilities Chief, you may have experience with planning, locating or funding a new station or stations; but a new training center, it’s most likely your first time and last time.
If you have experience, for example, with new or multiple station projects you most likely have learned a great deal from the first to the second to the third and so on. A training center project is very different. Sure, there are likely to be a few similar aspects such as land issues, design issues and community involvement; but after these traditional construction project hurdles, undertaking a training center will bring many different and unique issues. Here are some examples:
- No two days are ever the same at a training center. Demands on staff, equipment and logistics change daily if not hourly. If your training center will serve multiple agencies or disciplines such as police, fire, or public works the issues surrounding training center scheduling will be compounded exponentially.
- Facility staff and maintenance issues. Who will make sure the drill ground is ready for the day’s drill? That the range is clean and lead free? That the propane igniters for the live burn simulators are ready and safe? Will this be the responsibility of a sworn member or will a support person perhaps from public works maintain the equipment?
- If training props break or need maintenance, who will call the manufacturer, order repair parts, revise the training schedule or notify crews that training class(s) will be cancelled?
- What are the true training needs now and 20 years from now? Will the site for the center support growth? Will the site utilities meet the equipment needs, apparatus storage, parking, etc?
- If the training center is a multiple department partnership, how will the training center be governed? Who gets scheduling priority, how and why? What is the chain of command for decision making? A standing committee or a rotating center manager position?
- In a multiple department structure how much does each partner pay, how much and when?
- The list of questions will continue to grow as the training center project progresses.
As you can tell from the examples above and there are many many more, early stage planning is absolutely essential. Think of the training center project like a businessman who is starting a new venture. Any new business venture is enhanced by a straightforward, well-researched business plan, and training centers are no exception. A business plan for the development of a training center is imperative to fully assess the needs of the lead department and other participating agencies, as well as the cost of building and maintaining the facility. The basic elements are the same as with any new business start-up: cost to build, cost to operate, who will use it, what facilities are needed, and finally why build it in the first place?
In developing a Strategic Business Plan for the development of a police, fire or public safety training center, it is imperative to fully assess the needs of the department (needs assessment) and other involved entities (potential partner agencies), cost of building (construction costs) and in the case of maintaining the facility (annual operations costs). Departments also need to look to the future, mapping out their expected growth and the training requirements that will accompany that expansion (this is the “strategic” element).
A fully developed and articulated Training Center Strategic Business Plan delivers the full equation: everything that is needed to launch the training center project moving in a focused direction. Prior to the design phase the Strategic Business Plan provides answers and establishes the framework for the long-term success of the training center project and its equality important long-term sustainability.
In essence, the Training Center Strategic Business Plan should answer every question that elected officials, senior management or grant providers are likely to ask, such as:
- Who will use the training center?
- What training will the center provide?
- What will it cost to operate the facility annually?
- In the case of multiple partners, how will the center be managed?
- What are the training facility’s costs and practical benefits?
- Should the facility be open to outside users in order to generate revenues?
- What private, local, state or federal funds are available?
- What is the project funding strategy?
A solid strategic business plan assesses current and future needs, identifies costs and synergies and culminates with a clear funding objective. It becomes the tool that allows stakeholders (key decision makers) to say “YES.” And once your project is underway, it severs as a blueprint for success.
Avoid A Million Dollar MISTAKE
Develop a Training Center Strategic Business First
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Additional Resources On this Topic: Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:
Additional Resources On this Topic:
Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:
Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training.
Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source.
Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations.