An accelerating increase in the number of new police and fire department training centers being planned and constructed provide another strong indicator that the constrained budget environment in public safety of the past few years (starting around late 2008) may be easing. Other indicators that the tide may be turning are the increased jobs, hiring trends and uptick in new police and fire recruit academies. Past reports about hiring were outlined in “Jobs In Federal Law Enforcement Opening Up” and “Police and Firefighter Hiring Trend Continues.”
Here are examples of new training center projects that have hit the news just in the past few weeks.
- New Training Center in Richardson Texas —City officials recently celebrated the opening of a new $10.3 million fire training center. The 11,500-square-foot complex also doubles as a backup emergency dispatch center and an emergency operations center. The facility was partly funded through the 2010 bond program, which allocated $4.5 million to the project. The rest was financed through several sources, including federal grants.
- New Firefighter, EMT Training Center in San Diego— Training programs will be conducted at the $16.5 million classroom and training center. The San Diego Community College District used funds from two bond measures to construct the nearly 23,000-square-foot building. The new facility will include lab support space, equipment staging areas, classrooms, administrative office space, an outdoor training area and a drill tower.
- Planning Approved Public Safety Training Center in Paso Robles, CA —The city envisions a site of a state-of-the-art training facility for both emergency services and police personnel. The project includes business planning – a full assessment of needs and users, a daily operations and management plan, and annual operations and maintenance cost estimate.
- Regional Police Training Facility Moves Forward in Loveland, CO —Programming and design of the facility includes an indoor shooting range, driving platform (EVOC), K-9 training center, storage facility and classroom space. Following the development the Business Plan, full design and construction of the facility programmed in three phases from 2016-2019. Total cost of entire project is estimated at just more than $18 million in the Capital Program.
- Design Approval for Police and Fire Training Center Irving, TX — A professional services contract was awarded for site analysis, drainage impacts, facility master planning, schematic architectural context drawings, and cost estimating for the a new public safety training center. The center will include facilities to accommodate police and fire requirements including north police operations, fire administration, training, fitness programs, emergency operation management, and police and fire dispatch.
- New Police and Firefighter Training Center in Fort Worth —The new training facility will sit on 76-acres and Fire Chief Rudy Jackson states that “This facility will help us get ahead of the game and provide state-of-the-art training.” The cities current facility has been in use for 48 years “We have a burn building that’s been out of service for over 15 years, as well a burn tower,” Jackson said. The $97.4 million project is being financed in part by the sale of the old building and the use of grants. The new facility will include classrooms and offices, a vehicle course, a burn building and an indoor gun range.
- Going Regional in the Rockies, Meridian, ID —The $4.5M combined police and firefighter training center is moving toward approval. The plans include a shooting range, training classroom space and a “scenario village” where officers can practice anything from traffic stops to bank robberies to active shooter scenarios in a realistic simulated environment.
- Flatrock Regional Training Center in Brighton, CO —The new $10.5-million training facility north of Denver Intl Airport was dedicated in August. The new training center sits on 399 acres. It includes a 10,000-square-foot building that provides academy classroom space as well as two 50-yard tactical shooting ranges — one with 21 lanes and one with 17 lanes. Separate shooting ranges enable the training center to accommodate two agencies simultaneously. The main building is also home to the Flatrock Force Option Simulator, a virtual reality room that simulates realistic training scenarios. A high speed EVOC track and 8 acre concrete pad provides law enforcement all the space needed for any emergency response driving scenarios. Project strategic planning, daily operations plan and user revenue forecasting we completed by Interact Business Group.
- New Tactical Training Village, Washington DC —Tactical Village is a mini, self-contained, air-conditioned town built inside a structure that resembles a small aircraft hangar. It’s designed to help officers and recruits prepare for real-life scenarios, from active shooters to routine traffic stops. The streets are to scale and have painted yellow lines, and the height of the curbs is to regulation. The street lights are real. But the windows pop out and the doors are designed to be hit, repeatedly, by police battering rams without breaking. The project cost is stated as $5 million and took six years to build.
- Homeland Security Center Expansion, College of DuPage, IL —A $16m Phase 2 build out of the center has been approved. The expansion will include a 35,000-square-foot facility with four multi-use classrooms, four scenario simulators and a 25-station, 50-yard shooting range in the basement. The projection is to have the expansion operational by 2015
- New Training Center Planning Approved, Aurora, CO —The city has approved a $2.7M contract for the design phase of a combined police and fire training. The total facility project cost is estimated at around $22M. This cost is anticipated to be paid through bonds without additional taxes levied on Aurora residents. The project is slated to include 31,000 square feet of education training classrooms, 19,000 square feet of vehicle training and 23,000 square feet of K-9 training, a burn building, and a search and rescue training structure.
- Firefighter Training Tower Approved, Mobile, AL —The County Commission approved a $307,000 steel fire training tower. The tower will serve both volunteer and municipal departments and will allow firefighters to observe and train to understand the full progression of a fire.
At a time when most government budgets remain sluggish, the need for mandated training of public safety professionals continues. Decision makers seldom ignore or diminish the need for properly trained personnel. Nor do they fail to understand the need for safe and efficient training facilities. Are the economics (more budget money) of public safety training facilities back on the raise? Based on my observations over the past 90 to 120 days I would say yes. Can we say the budget paralysis of the past 5 years is over? No, but the prospects for new training center planning and construction are better than at any point since the 2007.
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