Funding the ongoing operations of a public services training center for both police and firefighters can be challenging, especially in today’s economic and budget climates. This is Part 2 of a report and a continuation of several ideas that are being used today to generate revenues at a Public Safety Training where policeman, firefighters, public utility workers and federal agencies train.
In case you missed them, here are the links to the first two articles:
Given the realities of funding the operation of a full-service training center, I reached out to Luzerne Community College located in Nanticoke Pennsylvania. Interact Business Group wrote the strategic business plan for the college. Since its opening in 2009, the Public Safety Training Institute (PSTI) has developed a very strong entrepreneurial sprite and has been notionally recognized as a leading “benchmark” training facility. The college has employed a variety of strategies and methods to augment traditional revenue str
eams (such as state funding and student tuition). The college provides a wide range of training activities including traditional classroom instruction, practical “field” exercises and drills, specialized seminars, and conferences.
Benchmarked Training Center
PSTI focuses on technical field training; the physical hands on training needed to handle emergency situations. This facility trains more than 4,000 fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers; it also enhances the Community College’s credit curriculum for its Criminal Justice, EMT and Fire Science programs. In terms of funding, LCCC receives an annual flat amount allotment from the State (Pennsylvania), based somewhat on enrollment numbers. Some of this revenue is then passed on to the PSTI; however, the amount does not fully cover the operational costs of the institute.
Due to this shortfall, PSTI’s former Executive Director Karen Flannery had to find many creative ways to help fund the day to day operation. Success was based on being flexible, imaginative, and having strong negotiation and scheduling skills. She also gave many presentations to various potential user groups.
Giving It Away Now, A Marketing Approach For the Future
One strategy Dr. Flannery found very useful was to allow use of the facility at no cost in certain circumstances. This proved to be a valuable marketing tool. Examples include:
- Working with the local District Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement groups to hold meetings at the PSTI. This exposed them to the facility and in turn, they ended up holding classes there.
- Partnering with State and Federal Agencies. The facility has been used (at no cost) for a variety of state and national-level functions, including an H1N1 immunization clinic, emergency relocation site (in conjunction with the Department of Health), FEMA recovery site during flooding, and disaster distribution site. These types of uses build support with other agencies and the community.
Some Great Revenue Ideas
PSTI employs a variety of strategies to generate its revenue, including:
- Offering a variety of fire and law enforcement training. Many colleges have cut their fire and police training because they can no longer afford to provide it. PSTI charges a per-person fee to public safety agencies for the various courses it offers. The agencies are billed for the training their employees receive. There is a wide range of fees for this training; current schedules in several categatories, CLICK HERE
- Fully utilizing the facility. Different agencies have different training needs and requirements. For example, full-time paid firefighters often train during the week and during the day. Volunteer firefighters are more apt to train on weekends and in the evening. Careful scheduling, along with having a flexible operating schedule, is very important.
- Providing law enforcement training wherein much of it is delivered at no cost. In many cases, instructor costs for this type of training are covered by the state (such as POST). PSTI receives its revenue by renting the facility and its equipment.
- Providing fire academy training on a contract basis. One large local city determined that it would be more cost effective to contract with the PSTI for training its recruits rather than doing it in-house.
- Developing a facility that supports lots of situational training. The PSTI provides real world hands-on training through scenarios involving active shooter, self-defense, Driver Simunition, and Skidcar, to name just a few.
- Provide on-site contract training with private industry. PSTI contracts with a large public utility (nuclear power plant) to provide their required safety training during the day Monday through Friday. Industry also rents the facility from time to time.
- Provide off-site contract training with private industry. PSTI takes their training “on the road,” providing such courses as hazardous materials and fire extinguisher use to private industry employees.
- Subcontracting with a different college to provide training for probation officers. PSTI charges for classroom and facility use.
- Use of the facility for private sector R&D. A local company that manufactures flashlights for public safety entities uses the burn building at the facility to test its products. In return, the company has donated a significant number of flashlights to the PSTI.
PSTI at Luzerne Community College is a robust and growing public safety training center. Faced with the need to generate revenue in order to off-set operational costs they have are thriving and achieving their mission of providing world class training to all First Responders.
These are but a few ways police and fire training center managers have found ways to generate revenue for their facilities.
Do you have any other ideas for generating revenue at your training center? Or can you share what is working at your facility?
Share Your Revenue Ideas by Commenting Below
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