Training Facility Planning, Avoid The BIG Mistake

So you want to build a Police or Firefighter Training Facility (maybe even a Combined Regional Partnership). You’ve identified several potential locations. The chief is on board. You have strong support from the fire or police union (or both). The city manager has expressed optimism for the project. Congratulations you’re “almost” there. At this point the usual next step is to call over to the facilities department and purchasing and tell them you need an RFP for architectural master plan design services. BIG Mistake. Let me tell you why.

Architectural and Engineering (A&E) firms can provide the technical data for a master design plan and provide some preliminary construction cost estimates. They may even offer to help with your needs assessment (If you do all the work and tell them what you need.)  All of these are eventually going to be important, however there is still considerable work to be completed before the project gets to this level of detail. The architectural and engineering aspect of the training center project is only part of the equation. Important yes, but secondary to the Strategic Business Plan.

The Full Planning Equation

A fully developed and articulated 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 A&E 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, a Strategic Business Plan should answer every question that elected officials 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?

Specific Key Objectives

A comprehensive business plan can facilitate a broad range of goals in building a training center. But most importantly, a plan is crucial to achieving the following Specific Key Objectives:

  • What is the training center project’s funding source?
  • What is the plan for the Training Center’s sustainability?
  • How much will it cost to operate annually
    Is there an on-going (sustainable) source of money
  • Why should the Training Center be funded over other projects?
    • Be specific
    • Be measureable
    • Be attainable
    • Be realistic
  • What problem does it solve?
  • Why build it in the first place?
    • Why “Not continue with the way we’ve always trained!”
  • How will the training center enhance operational efficiency?
  • How will the training center improve the ISO rating?
  • Will the training center facilitate mandated training that is currently being performed but at a less and satisfactory level or not being performed at all?

You’re Not There Yet

Congratulations your colleagues would be envious. However, you still may be very far away from turning the training center project into a reality. The project must be well justified, with strong verification by the public safety department. Senior executive staff and elected officials must be in full support of the project. The only way to accomplish full buy-in from all decision makers is to have a well planned, organized and justifiable strategic business plan.

A Seven-Step Process

The Interact Business Group advocates a Strategic Business Plan Seven-Step Process to planning for a new training facility. Ultimately, without a comprehensive cost management analysis, elected officials and grant providers are reluctant to open the money coffers for the project advancement. There is competition for that dollar, and a strategic business plan gives departments an extra edge when applying for limited funding.
Provide The Justification to Say “YES”
Key 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. In many cases what they need the most is a solid reason to say “YES”

 


Additional Resources On this Topic

Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:
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Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
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Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
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Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Should Police and Firefighters Wear Seatbelts?

How many of us have told our children, husbands/wife or friends; “Wear Your Seatbelt” or “Is your seatbelt on?”
In case you missed it (yes, sarcasm purposefully implied), it’s dangerous when police or firefighters ride in an emergency response vehicle without wearing a seatbelt!
Don’t believe me, or too stubborn to listen. Here are the facts.

At least 42% of police officers killed in vehicle crashes over the past three decades were not wearing seat belts or other safety restraints…
Fatal traffic incidents in 2010 were the leading cause of officer deaths for the 13th straight year.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of firefighter fatalities in the United States and this effort aims to reduce the number of preventable fatalities,” said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, Executive Director of the NFFF
The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, fatal vehicle accidents involving officers have been steadily rising, from 29% of the total fatalities in the 1980s to 50% or more in recent years.

For First Responders, Now For Some Good News
Over the past 12 months or so it seems to me that people are finally “getting it.” It seems that excuses are beginning to run thin. The adage “If you don’t get to the call, you can’t help anyone.” is taking hold. I have collected several reports and articles that I feel are spot on by leading the conversation and moving in the right direction. Have look and I look forward to your comments.

Management has gotten serious, case in point: FDNY seatbelt initiative increases firefighter safety – FDNY amped up its seatbelt efforts, retrofitting older fire apparatus with Ready Reach seatbelt systems[1], ordering new units with the belts already installed, and delivering internal “Buckle Up” training.
The department shared with FIRE CHIEF this video, which features Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Safety Chief Steve Raynis and others explaining the importance of seatbelt use. Also, Lt. Mike Wilbur details the Ready Reach system. Video Link
From the FAAC – Drivers Safety and Training Blog – Aggressive reporting and writing that discussed the importance of maintaining fresh content in professional driver training programs “The Great Seatbelt Lie”
A true to life (saving) story – “If not for yourself, than for your families and for your chosen profession.”  The Bottom Line on Seat Belts for Law Enforcers
From Buckle Up! So Everyone Goes Home ®,some very encouraging news “After five years, over 850 departments and 150,000 firefighters have signed the National Fire Service Seatbelt Pledge and committed to wearing their seatbelts.”  International First Responder Seatbelt Pledge
Video – Watch it and share it with everyone you work with!  We’ve Heard All The Excuses

Driving a Emergency Response Vehicle is Dangerous, Still Not Convinced
If you or someone you work with STILL is not convinced please take a couple of minutes and read this report. It may save your life.

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies After Being Ejected From Front Seat of Engine

 

Public Safety Training. Stay Connected and Informed
Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:

LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

 

[1] – No product endorsement is intended or implied.

Revenue Ideas For Public Safety Training Centers

Given the realities of funding the operation of a full-service public safety training center, can be challenging. Interact Business Group has identified several examples of how police or fire training center managers can become “entrepreneurial” in their approach to funding their training center.

Although current revenue models may be working well for traditional college credit and degree programs geared toward an academic student population, those strategies might not be sufficient to support the additional funding necessary to operate a facility that caters to an entirely different audience such as policeman, firefighters or volunteers. For example, many public safety agencies often prefer to conduct their training very early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends.

Revenue Generating Examples

Following are several examples of ways to generate revenue or reduce operating costs at a public safety training center.

  1. Offer a wide range of basic courses geared toward meeting the specific needs of the region and that match your training centers unique facilities, perhaps large classrooms or a large open drill ground. For example Leadership Classes such as:
      1. Strategies & Tactics
      2. Health & Safety Officer
      3. Training Officer Seminars
      4. Large scale events (many participates) gatherings. Such as 5K races, or other community events.
  2. Consider renting your facility to agencies that may have complementary training curriculums. For example you may currently be holding hazardous materials training and trench rescue. Private companies or government agencies may have similar training needs. Think: high raise construction, building inspection, truck fleets with drivers training needs.
    1. Utility company’s
    2. Construction company’s
    3. Hospitals
    4. Trucking fleets
  3. Form a partnership with a state or national organization such as the Leadership Program from the International Chiefs of Police (IACP) or the Company Officers program from the International Fire Chiefs (IFC). Typically, these are one-day seminars geared towards leadership. In most cases the classes may be offered for free however a small “facility use fee” say $20 to $30 per attendee would be reasonable.
  4. Offer classes that stress training of a particular skill or “how to” classes to operate equipment. Students may attend the class at no charge however the class may be sponsored by the vendor whose equipment is being used or demonstrated. Vendors may sponsor a breakfast, lunch, or afternoon break food to reduce costs of the event.
  5. Provide full food services on site for a fee. This added benefit to attendees is quite helpful for attracting participants; they appreciate the convenience of being able to eat at the facility rather than having to go off site for their meals.
  6. If you have a regional or county training center consider different levels of fee structure. For example, establish different rates (training course and facility rental) for in-county and out-of-county agencies, or another fee structure for private industry

These are but a few ways police and fire training center managers have found ways to generate revenue for their facilities.

Any Other Ideas That Are Working For You, Let Us Know

Do you have any examples? Please share what you are doing with others in the Leave A Reply box below.

 


Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:

  • LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  • Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
  • Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  • Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Police and Firefighter Hiring Trend Continues

Earlier this year I wrote about the Turning Tide in Police and Firefighter Hiring. As weJobs reach the midyear point, police and firefighter hiring trend appears to be accelerating along with a couple of interesting twists.

Class of 20 Immediately Following 40

Kansas City is planning a recruit class of 20 new police officers immediately after wrapping up its current academy class of almost 40 cadets, one of its largest classes. The department reports that last year it had 400 applications for the police academy. Recruiters this year are looking for a new incoming academy class of about 20 people, but so far the applications aren’t pouring in like they were last year. It is still early in the process and the numbers of applicants will surely rise.

Read more from Kansas City: HERE

Salaries Remain Strong

In New Jersey the Rutherford mayor and council have approved hiring new police recruits after several years of a hiring freeze. While the recruits are in the academy they will earn $27,242 and within eight years the new officers could earn up to $99,639 per year.

Police Chief Russo said that he hopes this is sign of change for the police department, which has not had the ability to hire new officers for a number of years. “To be honest, said Russo, I’m not looking to get back to the 49 officers that we had when I first started. I just want to be able to staff all of the shifts without having to constantly dip into overtime.”

Read more details from Rutherford:  HERE

Diversity in Hiring Continues

In Erie, PA nearly 300 applied to become City of Erie firefighters. The strong diversification trend continued in Erie where officials say the pool includes African American, Latino and female candidates. Preliminary results show that the pool includes 20 women; three African-American men; three Latinos; one African-American woman; and three who listed their ethnicity as “other.”

An ongoing recruiting effort continues as it as for the past few years. Erie has printed brochures detailing application requirements that are distributed throughout the community, including local churches. To expand its reach, the city has also advertised on its website, www.erie.pa.us, and in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland newspapers.

Read more details from Erie: HERE

New Firefighter Hires Help ISO Rating

In Springfield, FL the commissioners voted to hire six new firefighters before the June 1st deadline set by Insurance Services Inc. (ISO). In October ISO informed the commissioners the city’s rating would increase — homeowners would pay more for insurance — without the additional firefighters to meet staffing level requirements.

With the decision to hire six firefighters the commissioners also approved a budget to spend  $12,042 to equip the new firefighters with coats, pants, suspenders, boots, helmets, gloves and shields.

Read more from Springfield: HERE

Increased Hiring Brings Competition

The economy is moving slowly toward recovery and in law enforcement, like many industries, jobs are beginning to open up again.

Bigger departments are opening their doors to new hires and many local officers are ready to take them up on the promise of higher pay, lower cost of living and more action on the job.  Unable to compete, local departments are again beginning to struggle to keep well-trained and qualified people on staff.

Its been recently reported that Denver PD ended a more than four year hiring freeze last fall and was on track to bring on 100 new officers in 2013. Many of these larger agencies will pull new hires from smaller agencies who cannot compete with salaries, benefits and in some cases more career opportunities.  

A new patrol deputy for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office (Colorado) can start off at an annual salary of approximately $45,000. Denver PD pays a police officer 4th grade more than $51,000 and salaries are set to increase next year. (According to the departments web sites.)

Read more: HERE

Firefighters and Paramedics Finding Higher Paying Jobs

In the past three years, Georgetown County, SC has lost nearly 100 firefighters and paramedics to higher paying jobs. Some took jobs in places as close as Horry County, where starting salaries are about $5,000 higher than in Georgetown County.

Leaving For More Pay

One firefighter/paramedic took the same position in Montgomery, Md., for a salary of $70,000. That’s $11,000 more than fire chiefs, the highest paid firefighting employees in Georgetown County, earn. Another firefighter moved to Florida to make surfboards. He now makes more money than he did at Midway Fire Rescue.

Read more from Georgetown: HERE

Will Police and Firefighter Hiring Continue?

I think yes. After tracking police, fire and all public safety job growth there is an unquestionable national up-tick in job hiring across all areas, disciplines and specialties. Another trend worth mentioning is the number of veterans turning to jobs in public safety after their honorable careers. Well trained vets along with the dramatic growth of college curriculums in fire and police science programs (I will be writing more about community college programs in the near future) will make competition tough for applicants but offer a huge benefit for counties and cites.

Here are several additional ways to stay connected and informed with Public Safety Training:

  1. LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  2. Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
  3. Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  4. Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

 

Combined Fire and Police Training Center May Cut Costs By $300,000

The combined Fire and Police Training Center in Round Rock Texas (near Austin) may cut current training cost by around $300,000. Earlier this year Interact Business Group completed a strategic business plan for the project that took into account existing training conditions, including travel to out of area training locations, staff overtime and equipment efficiencies. The combined training center project cost estimate is $38.3 million and is being planned for voter approval on November’s ballot as a bond issue.

“This is looking at the future of not only the police officers safety, but the citizens safety,” said Round Rock Police Training Sgt. Sean Johnson. “As we grow (population of more than 100,000), we need a training area to allow our officers to be the best that they can get.”


See the Sgt Sean Johnson interview and XKAN news report

Most, if not all, training would be done right on site, eliminating travel costs and time. It would also cut the cost of officers and firefighters being away from their regular posts.

It’s not just a dollar issue for the city’s emergency responders. “There are (high risk calls) that don’t happen in the real world every day,” Johnson said. “So, if we don’t practice those skills, it’s a perishable skill, then we’ll lose that skill set.”

The strategic plan identified several key factors in the analysis:

  1. What are the current and future training needs? 
  2. What are the training need priorities?
  3. What will it cost to build the facility?   
  4. What are the preliminary site plans and equipment requirements? 
  5. What will it cost to annually operate the facility?
  6. What are the potential revenue opportunities from outside users?
  7. Are there possible partnering arrangements with other area departments?
  8. What is the cost benefit of a facility over existing conditions training?

A key training hurdle facing the departments was finding local public spaces for repetitive training. For example, fire trucks are forbidden from doing repeated driver exercises on open parking lot areas. That’s because the 80,000 pound vehicles tear up the pavement there.

“Having an area that’s designed specifically for that is going to be valuable,” said assistant chief Billy Wusterhausen.

Sandy Hook is an example of a mass casualty incident where first responders would be more effective if they had repeated training with other departments.

 “As we grow out to that 250,000 population and we’re still the second safest city in the United States, we will have done it right,” Sgt. Johnson said.

Fire Chief David Coatney said depending on what Round Rock voters agree to, the build-out could happen in stages to spread out the cost over several years.

Some training elements being considered for the combined fire and police training center include:

  • Firearms Complex
  • Urban Training Area
  • High Speed Driving Center
  • Driver Avoidance Pad
  • Live Fire Burn Training Rooms
  • Multi-Story Tower
  • Outside Training City Grid
  • Technical Rescue Props
  • Swift Water Rescue Prop
  • Wildland Fire Training Area

Local Round Rock firm KAH Architecture and Interior Design assisted Interact Business Group in the development of the training center site layout.

To read more about similar police and fire department training center projects and more details about Strategic Business Planning Process follow the links below

  • Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, events and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates.
  • Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  • Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

Click HERE to read more

Avoiding Training Accidents, It’s All About Discipline

Coach Wooden Statue

Legendary Coach John Wooden

“You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, to improve — not to punish.” John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach

As I wrote in last month’s newsletter, public safety recruit hiring seems to be on the upswing with police and fire departments nationally reporting more job openings, record numbers of applicants, and more academy classes. Concurrent with this trend is a particularly disturbing one – an apparent increase in the number of training-related accidents. Over the past 6 months it seems the number of training-related accidents is rapidly rising. If (as I perceive it) training has become more dangerous than in the past, then the big question is why? Were prior accidents unreported or under-reported? Given the 24/7 news cycle and increased reliance on social media, are accidents (even minor ones) taking on more scrutiny? Or, are we seeing a decline in discipline that’s contributing to an actual increase in accidents?

Although training-related injuries and deaths due to underlying health issues such as heart conditions are nonetheless tragic, I have been focusing in particular on training accidents and deaths not associated with health issues. The following links provide a reference to some of these:

Clearly, many training-related accidents can be attributed to a lack of discipline. This breakdown in discipline can take place at the instructor level, at the student level, or at both levels. It’s important to understand how and why those breakdowns occur. A colleague recently told me that, in his opinion, there are too many cases of “television/movie” inspired instructors. What he meant by that phrase is that the instructors believe “faster is better, stronger is superior, and toughness is admired.” This attitude (and lack of discipline) can result in a convoluted badge of machismo to be the best – at the cost of safety. Another theory is that instructors are working and training in a new era; due to budget cuts, and due to the need to get a backlog of recruits trained and out on the street, they are simply moving too fast. It’s possible that instructors are somehow encouraged to cut corners to reduce costs or get the job done more quickly. In either case, the attitude of safety is undermined, creating an environment where an accident is more likely to occur.

In order to understand how discipline relates to learning, it’s important to understand how first responders learn and assimilate information.[1][2]

    • Public safety workers are dynamic assimilators: They learn best when allowed to actively participate, practice and repeat codified sequences of behavior, as opposed to strict book learning. They are hands-on learners.
    • Public safety workers are communication-oriented learners: 1) Public safety work requires instant knowledge transmission and reception; 2) The culture of public safety is that of a large family.
    • Public safety workers are “prioritizers:” They focus their attention upon self survival, search, rescue and safety of incident victims, and then the protection of properties.
    • Public safety workers are follower/leaders: They respond to authority and expertise of their superiors and those who have lived the skills they wish to learn. Through this they gain confidence and leadership skills.
    • Public safety workers learn from peers better than unknown teachers: They view their co-workers as equals. They are “brothers and sisters,” not fellow employees. Therefore, to be most effective, the instructors must also be public safety workers who have been “in the trenches.”
    • Public safety workers are mindful of learning conscientiously: They view their education as important to themselves and the survival of the communities they serve.
    • Public safety workers prefer actual scenarios to abstract training: As hands-on learners, they don’t respond well to theory or hypothetical example. As dynamic learners, they respond best to actual critical incident scenarios. Public safety workers thrive on real life situations. They live for the “adrenaline rush” of being on a scene and responding to a crisis. So, the training must somehow re-create incident scenes to be effective.

Creating and maintaining a training environment that supports these concepts will also help support discipline among both instructor and student.

One of the most important aspects of the learning process is the opportunity for a new recruit (or seasoned veteran) to apply a newly-learned skill or to reinforce old ones. This is not to say that experience isn’t a great teacher – but learning through repetitive practice allows students (probie or veteran) to develop their cognitive skills to an autonomous level through repeated rehearsal. Having spoken to many police and firefighters, there’s always a recurring theme: “When stress, adrenaline, or disorientation occurred, I fell back on the lessons learned in training; in other words my training kicked in.” In the service of public safety, “On The Job Training” (OTJ) is not acceptable without mastery of job task fundamentals.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, one of football’s most accomplished and respected coaches, “Excellence is Achieved in the Mastery of Fundamentals.” Coach Lombardi Statue

Coach Lombardi trained his athletes for consistent performance, rather than one-time stunning plays. It takes discipline to master fundamentals and to perform consistently. Most importantly, in the world of public safety training, it takes discipline to do so safely.


[1]      Bullets are from the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/OEMS/Files_page/symposium/2010Presentations/OPE-921.pdf

Police and Fire Academies Hiring: Is the Tide Turning?

We have all read the headlines and many have felt the reality of reduced or eliminated public safety recruit academies over the past 4 years. As the Managing Editor of Responder Gateway, I keep a close eye on technology trends, events making news, chatter around the coffee pot and reports from our sponsors. Starting last September I began to notice a change. Have we turned the corner on reduced Fire/EMS and Police hiring? Can we state without a doubt that the worst of the hiring freeze is over? As with most things, there is no absolute yes or no answer. However, as the old song goes, “The Times They Are a Changin’.” In August/September of 2012, we began to see headlines such as this one from Toledo Ohio: “42 begin 26-week push to become Toledo officers.” Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs said the new officers are “desperately needed.” The department went years without hiring a police class and in the last year-and-a-half, has been trying to play catch-up and bolster the ranks amid retirements and a gap in hiring. Police Cadet

Division Chief Michael T McIntosh of the Adams County Sherriff’s Office in Colorado reports “We have certainly seen an uptick in our Academies. We, for the first time in 5 years had every seat filled in our Academy, in fact we had 7 additional seats causing me to conduct skills training on Saturday. Our July Academy is already full and my staff is ready to kill me because I asked them to look at the possibilities of running a third academy. Needless to say, business is very good!

Psychologist use a term called “perceptual vigilance.” In layman’s terms, perceptual vigilance occurs when one becomes aware of something, such as news and conversation, and your mind changes the way it filters your impressions of it. Suddenly, it seems like the thing you’re interested in is appearing all the time.

Now in 2013, we see this trend of new recruit academies springing up in many parts of the country. This resurgence of new hires is not limited to just police or just fire – it’s occurring across both disciplines. So why now? What has changed or is changing? Several factors can be attributed to the hiring upswing, including:

  • Overtime Savings – Last year, Providence, RI Mayor Taveras stated at a new academy class ceremony that “The new fire academy will create good family jobs in our city and at the same time save up to $1 million annually by reducing overtime costs.”
  • Community Risk Reduction Program – In January the Philadelphia Firefighter Academy graduated its first firefighting class trained in the new Community Risk Reduction Program.
  • Hiring Due to Attrition – In Joliet, IL, staffing is down in the police department due to attrition and early retirements. The city looked for ways to save money to ward off budget shortfalls in recent years. But now the city intends to replace retirees to maintain staffing levels by adding 10 new officers to the existing staff. The city is also taking a new approach to hiring by seeking trained and certified officers. This will save the city money and allow officers to help out immediately.
  • Departments Training Together to Reduce Academy Costs – In Anoka County, MN fire departments identified the serious need to bring training into one place to reduce training costs. The combined efforts of 15 department chiefs found that over the next four years, 236 new firefighters would be needed to keep the departments at their current staffing levels.
  • Academy SAFER Grant Success – The academy in Anoka County received a $1.57 million SAFER grant in August 2012. The grant fully funds the academy for the next four years, including medical screening and equipment. It also includes a $500 bonus for the academy graduates if they stay with their departments for a year.

Speaking with several academy directors, there is an impressive focus on background, experience, and age of the new recruits. As new academies begin, the standard of new student (recruits) has never been higher. Several commons factors among police and fire academies seem to be overriding contributors to the selection of new recruits:

  • It is common place to see very large numbers of applicants for very few academy slots. For example:
    • In San Jose, CA there were 800 applicants for 52 positions and city reports 1,400 applicants for its next academy class.
    • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has notified 2,800 eligible candidates who previously expressed continued interest in police jobs that up to 175 will be selected for their July academy.
  • Diverse backgrounds and experience are also driving high recruit hiring standards. Recruits with military backgrounds and recent multiple combat deployments on their resumes are common. Academy selection committees are enthusiastic about the work experience and discipline these individuals bring to the table and are pleased that they are able to employ veterans. It’s not uncommon in today’s recruit academy class to have new recruits between 27 and 35 years old; veterans; those looking for second careers choices; and those with advanced college degrees. Here are several examples of today’s experience and diversity:
  • Rochester, NY- Fire Academy consisting of 24 city residents includes one Asian male, two white females, one African American female, 11 African American males and nine white males; five of these recruits are also military veterans.
  • Madison, WI – Graduated 20 new firefighters from its recruit academy. Some examples of the recruit background include: USMC Reserves, Degree in Fire Protection Technician, Accounting and Paramedic License, Degree in Business Marketing, Degree from Northern Michigan University. One new recruit holds certificates in Firefighter I & II, Driver/Operator – Pumper, EMT – Basic, Fire Inspector I, Driver/Operator- Aerial, Fire Officer I, and Fire Instructor I.
  • Huntsville, AL – HAS just graduated 32 cadets, its largest and most diverse academy ever. The March 2013 graduating class includes 7 African American, 17 white males, 5 white females, 2 black females, 1 Asian female.

If my perceptual vigilance is accurate, we should not call the era of training academy cancellations and postponements a thing of the past; however, the darkest days seem to be behind us. Most job watch statistics derived from the leading job search platforms indicate an optimistic public safety job outlook over the next few years. This is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

DOL forecasts that employment for police officers will experience growth through 2014 with competition remaining high due to attractive salaries and benefits, particularly with state and federal agencies. Further, recruits with college training in police science, military police experience, or both should have the best opportunities. Firefighter recruit statistics are also expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Just as with police recruits, fire recruits will see strong competition for academy slots.

Going forward, and now with your “perceptual vigilance’ on full alert, keep an eye and ear on news and events in your community. It seems to me that recruit academies are going to get very busy in the very near future. And that’s one change in the tide we’d all like to see.

Public Safety Training Newsletter Available

The Public Safety Training Newsletter began in 2003 as an information source for our customers. Our customers told us that information specific to public safety training was not available. The large publications and web sites had grown too large, too diverse and unwieldy, finding information specific to public safety training was either not available or just plain too hard to find. Listening to our customers, we decided to publish a one-stop source for news, events, technical data, product information & trends and success stories for the public safety training industry.

Interact Business Group

10 Years Later

Now, 10 years later, the Public Safety Training Newsletter has grown to over 8,000 readers and 15,000 soical network folowers. and has become the go to source for public safety training news, trends and events.

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Fire Apparatus Drivers Program

The DPSST Regional Fire Section is no stranger to remote delivery and over the last ten years has purchased a number of training props that can be moved around the state to assist with the needs of the Oregon Fire Service. The latest addition to the Oregon Fire Training toolbox is the Skid Avoidance for Fire Apparatus Drivers (SAFAD) Program. As designed, the program is similar to that used by the law enforcement community with the noticeable difference between the Fire Service and that of law enforcement training being the use of a Ford F-650 crew cab truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating up to 24,000 pounds instead of the police package sedan. The concept of the program started several years ago and came together towards the end of 2008 and early 2009 as a result of several tragic accidents involving Oregon Fire Service drivers. As with law enforcement emergency vehicle operation course (EVOC), the foundation of the Fire Service Program is a sound base of training that emphasizes the dynamics or performance characteristics of the vehicle, an awareness of the space occupied by the vehicle and how this impacts the overall environment, taking into consideration driving conditions.

Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency

Once the base knowledge, skills and abilities have been established or identified through such standards as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency, the SAFAD curriculum provides the actual hands on experience to support and reinforce the base training.

In designing the program the goal was established to provide each attending operator the psychomotor skills and mental attitudes that are essential to becoming the most competent, skillful and responsible driver possible. Overall, the program performance objective is to reduce Oregon’s statistical numbers in the national list of accidents and injuries. In the past 12 years, 16 Oregon firefighters were killed in vehicle crashes while on duty.

SKIDCAR Systems

To deliver the training, various solutions were considered, with DPSST ultimately choosing SKIDCAR Systems. The SKIDCAR System consists of two hydraulic platforms mounted to the front and rear axles of the truck. An instructor who is seated next to the driver adjusts the grip using a computer that is slaved to the hydraulic platforms. The instructor is able to create and repeat circumstances where it is possible for the driver to lose control, experience common roadway hazards, and do so at low speeds with no physical risk to the driver, instructor, or equipment.

See the full article here
Article from: DPSST November 2012 Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 3
Department of Public Safety, Standards & Training, 4190 Aumsville Hwy SE Salem, OR 97317

Public Safety Training Centers’ – Contrasts of Direction

After looking over the past months public safety training news highlights it occurred to me that for every resounding success story there are equally disturbing ones. Carlsbad, California celebrates the grand opening of its fabulous new multi-disciplined training center and the New Jersey State Patrol reports record diversification in this year’s recruit applicants, while Central Arizona College , near Phoenix struggles to remain open.

Carlsbad, doing many things extremely well

In preparing this month’s newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genuinely deserve. Interact Business Group worked with facility staff and the police, fire and facilities departments over the past 12 months by helping them with their daily operations plan, staffing and budgets.   I have come to learn firsthand how a forward thinking city like Carlsbad  when working together can take a very limited sized site (around 4 acres) and create a  first-class public safety training center.  I would stop short of calling it world class because of their limited site and location – they did not have space for EVOC training. A nice sized grinder area will serve them well for maneuvering and driving tactic but speed is not an option for them.

Training site facing financial woes, may close

There are disturbing issues brewing at Central Arizona College (CAC) and its Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA).

It seems the nationally recognized training center is tittering on the edge of closer. Its last police recruit graduating class was July 2011.  The school continues to work hard, with a very motivated staff and excellent reputation. The problem is pretty simple. Not enough students.  In a recent article in the Maricopa Monitor by Susan Randall, James Moore CAC interim vice president for learning services summed it up. “The demand for certified officers has been dropping for some time,” When CARLOTA started in 1973, it was one of only three or four academies in Arizona, he said. There was demand from all over the state. Now there are 11 academies. In the article Georgia White, CAC’s former dean of professional and technical education said, “I think the biggest change, the tipping point, has been the economy.” AZPOST Executive director Lyle Mann said CARLOTA had a fine reputation, training more than 100 officers a year, but enrollment dropped because agencies stopped hiring. Arizona agencies hired 800 to 900 cadets a year in 2006 and 2007, he said. Then the economy slowed, and they hired only 300 to 400 in 2009 and 2010.

New Jersey – 8,500 Very Qualified Candidates.

On the east coast the contrast from Arizona could not be more pronounced. The statistics are well, staggering. Recently reported by NJTODAY.NET, more than 12,000 men and women submitted online applications, the most in any New Jersey State Police recruiting drive. More than 9,600 of them met all the initial qualifications and 8,500 scheduled themselves to take the Physical Qualification Test (PQT), which is the current phase of the process. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the diversity composition of the applicants.  NJTODAY.net reports the applicant pool entering the PQT is very strong, with 19% Hispanic, 15% Black, 14% female, 3% Asian, and 2% listing two or more categories. By comparison, the last recruiting process, held in early 2010, resulted in approximately 5,200 applicants moving into the PQT phase with 15% being Hispanic, 11% Black, and 9% female. The PQT is the first step. Applicants passing the PQT will take a written exam, those passing the written will then move into background checks, then medical and psychological examinations. There is a rough target to graduate 250 total troopers in 2013 as a part of the 152nd and 153rd State Police classes.

What does it mean; Grand Opening, Tittering on Closure and Record Turnouts? I don’t have an answer. The old adage went something like this, “There will always be crime and there will always be fires. So get a job at the force or the department and you’ll never be out of work.” The first part is true but the rules of the second part have truly changed. Today there are many new lexicons in public safety; Just for fun Google “Fire Department Brownouts”- the search yields over 14,000 hits. Or try “police department cuts” and Google brings back over 31,000 hits. The bad guys are still out there and fires still destroy lives and property. I guess the only advice I have comes from my old high school football coach. “Shut-up, buckle up, get in there and do your job. You’re on the first string and there is no second string.”

(Click here to read more on this and other fire and police training issues.)

Oscar Perez/Casa Grande Dispatch, Apache Junction police officers simulate a pursuit during a driving certification in June at the Central Arizona College CARLOTA test track