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.

How To Begin Planning For A Police or Firefighter Training Center

Start With The End In Mind

That is a key point to keep in mind when planning for a new police, fire or combined training facility. Focus not just on what you need today, but also on your future needs.  Because of the costs involved, a new police or firefighter facility will likely have to service your department for twenty, thirty or even fifty years down the road. Decisions made in this critical early planning stage will impact the generations that come after you. Sounds a little dramatic, but its so very very true.

Take your time and get the early phase planning right

In the fast-changing world of public safety, more and more public safety departments are finding that their current training facilities are outdated and sorely lacking in the equipment, technology and props needed to adequately train their growing numbers of police and firefighters. Both within departments themselves and within the communities they serve, most people recognize the need for highly trained professionals that serve in their community. But while the need is easily acknowledged, figuring out how to plan and ultimately finding funding for a new or refurbished facility is often daunting for most public safety departments.

Early stage planning is essential. Any new business venture is enhanced by a straightforward, well-researched plan — and police and fire training centers are no exception. With any new venture in the private sector, a small business startup, new product release, or facility expansion the approving authority (such as a board of directors or a bank) wants to see a plan. They will,“What are you going to do with the money?”

The common term used in the private sector is “Business Plan.” I think it is equally appropriately used when developing or enhancing a public safety or OSHA training center. Many of the elements of a training center are similar to starting a business or launching a project. Here are some similar questions that pertain to both a public safety department and private industry:

  • What will it cost to build? (Construction costs)
  • What will it cost to operate? (Annual Operations and Maintenance Costs)
  • Who is going to use it? (Needs Assessment)
  • What facilities are needed? (Building type, Classrooms, Props)
  • Why build it? (Cost justification)

Using the private sector analogy again, a strong, well-conceived Business Plan answers the following questions: How, What, Where, When, Why. For the public sector, such as a   police, fire or any public safety department, there are long-term consequences to a safe, secure and accessible training center project. As mentioned above, the project being planned today will have impact for many future generations.   For this reason the word “Strategic” needs to be added. By definition – Strategic means

“Important or essential in relation to a plan of action” and “Highly important to an intended objective.”

Training Center Strategic Business Plan

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).

The Interact Business Group specializes in delivering the “full equation” with its comprehensive Strategic Business Plan. 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.

Think Like a Businessman

Early stage planning is absolutely essential. Think of the training center project like a businessman who is starting a new venture. The basic elements are the same: cost to build, cost to operate, who will use it, what facilities are needed, and finally why build it in the first place. Keep these in mind. The future depends on it!


Additional Resources On This Topic

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

LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning
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.

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.
Trained Police Dogs In Big Demand

Trained Police Dogs In Big Demand

K9_2

Police Dogs or K9’s have become very commonplace in our everyday lives. Travel though an airport or spend a day that the mall you are sure to see these extremely well training police canines “working” right alone side their two legged partners.

Nearly a day doesn’t pass when I don’t read about an heroic act, a drug bust, or far too often a tragic injury or death of one of these highly trained law enforcers.

Always curious by the many facets public safety training for both policeman and firefighters I recently read an excellent article written by a Massachusetts news reporter, Jessica Trufant (see the contact information below), that added to my knowledge base of the world of K9’s, their training, commitment and (growing) importance.

Ken Ballinger is the Assistant Deputy Superintendent of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department has seen a huge spike in the number of departments investing in police dogs following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. More recently AD Ballinger has been flooded with calls pouring into his cell phone in the weeks following the Boston Marathon bombings.

“These aren’t your grandfather’s police dogs,” Ballinger said during a recent training session. “Some of these dogs are just getting back from seven days in Boston with SWAT teams.”

Dwane Foisy, president of the Massachusetts Police Work Dog Association, has also received many inquiries from departments interested in bomb-detecting dogs since Patriots Day.

With more than 20 years as a K9 officer, Foisy, who works for the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department, just like Ballinger said he saw an upswing in bomb-detecting police dogs after 9/11, but then the demand dropped off. He said bomb dogs might not be realistic for small departments, because calls for suspicious packages peak after an attack, but then trail off.

“When you have a narcotics dog, they’re making seizures of narcotics and money, and there’s a return on the investment,” Foisy said. “With explosives dogs, you may not get calls for service very often.”

While small agencies’ interest in bomb dogs will likely simmer, Ballinger said the demand for multi-purpose police dogs is higher than ever.

For every dog that retires, we’re replacing it with five. said Ballinger

At the Auburn University Canine Detection Training Center in Anniston, Alabama Labrador Retrievers are learning the Auburn-patented vapor-wake training, which means they’ll be able to smell a plume of scent left by an explosive device that is worn or carried. John Pearce, associate director of the Training Center, said they’ve used vapor-wake training for eight years.

Pearce said the vapor-wake trained dogs cost $24,950 and dogs skilled in vapor-wake and standard explosive detection cost $29,950. The Labs trained in Anniston are used by law enforcement agencies across the country, including the New York Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police. Pearce said he couldn’t say with absolute certainty, but if one of his Labs had been at the Boston Marathon the pressure cooker bombs that killed three people might have been discovered before they went off. For more information on the training center in Anniston click here:

Click here to view original web page at enewscourier.com

A Drastic Increase In The Use Of Dogs

A second-generation K9 handler, Ballinger 20 years ago never imagined that dogs in 2013 would be sniffing out contraband cell phones in prisons, or wearing cameras to stake out buildings before raids.

K9_1But Ballinger has seen a drastic increase in the use of dogs and the sophistication of training, as case law and public opinion have shifted to treat K9s as legitimate police tools.

He expects a greater presence of K9s before and during large public events, despite some pushback from privacy rights advocates who may consider the use of dogs unlawful searching.

“Standards for privacy are high in Massachusetts, but the standard of reasonableness reflects the world we live in now,” Ballinger said. “A dog walking around and sniffing you is a lot less intrusive than a cop grabbing you and shaking you like a leaf.”

“There’s nothing in modern technology that will be more accurate or sensitive than a dog’s nose,” Ballinger said.

There is no state oversight or registry for the approximately 300 police dogs in Massachusetts, but Foisy said training and annual certification through a reputable organization or police or sheriff’s department is essential to the integrity of K9 units.

“When you go into court, you need to have the paperwork and justification for how you know what your dog is telling you is correct, and that’s through training and maintenance,” he said.

I encourage you to click on the link below to read more about the extremely valuable training work that Foisy, Ballinger and many others are doing. Get a history lesson and learn some interesting facts, for example:

  • Learn how in 1903 Ivan Pavlov studied conditioned response in salivating dogs. A
  • Learn how today’s police dogs are trained for “detection not destruction” of evidence.
  • Food and veterinary care average about $800 a year, depending on the department and health of the dog. Ashland Animal Hospital, for example, provides care for Dax at no cost.
  • The cost for starting a K9 unit ranges from several thousand dollars to $50,000, depending on who breeds the dog, where it goes for training and the equipment the department needs.

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.

Jessica Trufant can be reached at 508-634-7556 or JTrufant@wickedlocal.com.

Link to the news report: HERE

Police Training Center Going Regional In The Rockies

Officials are planning the biggest law enforcement training facility in the northern Rockies.

With a growing number of sworn officers on staff, it’s getting more difficult to accommodate training needs. Classroom and gym space is crowded, and they often have to break training up over several days said Meridian Idaho Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea .

After 5 months of extensive research, and travel the Interact Business Group completed a Training Center Strategic Business Plan for the City of Meridian Public Safety Training Center . The plan included an in-depth training needs assessment, construction and maintenance  cost estimates, multiple conceptual site layouts. a  regional focus group and web based surveys to measure the most pressing training needs in the region.

  1. Who will use the training center? 
  2. What training will be provided at the center?
  3. What will it cost to build the center? 
  4. What will it cost to annually operate the center? 
  5. What are the preliminary site plans and equipment requirements? 
  6. What is the cost benefit of the training center?
  7. What is the potential of offering training classes to outside public agencies and industries?
Reviewing the police training site layout

Reviewing the police training center site layout

A Regional Training Center Approach

And it won’t just serve Meridian, Police Lt. Jamie Leslie said. With the Idaho State Police and Peace Officer Standards and Training facilities just blocks away, the facility will benefit law enforcement agencies statewide. And with the nearest scenario village in Salt Lake City, the Meridian site could attract officers from throughout the region.

“In a facility like we envision, I can do classroom, I can bring them into the range … and then right into a scenario,” Leslie said. “So they get to try all those disciplines every day we train. I can set up an accident situation that turns into a use-of-force type situation. Get those officers on their toes thinking all the time.”

Interact and Meridian Training Center Planning Team

And it’ll allow multiple agencies to train together, he said, so they can better coordinate when they end up at the same emergency call.

Another advantage? It’ll make training more dynamic. Right now, officers know exactly what kind of training they’re in for based on where they train. If they’re at the shooting range, they’re practicing with firearms. If they’re in the mat room, they’re practicing close-quarters tactics and arrest techniques. In the scenario village, they’ll never know what’s coming.

That will no longer be the case once the proposed $4.5 million facility is built, Basterrechea said. Plans include a shooting range, 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.

The proposal is still in its very early stages, Meridian Economic Development Director Brenda Sherwood said, but plans call for several expansions to the department’s existing facility, built in 2002 with a much smaller community in mind.

Meanwhile, Sherwood said, the city hopes to attract and involve private industry to meet its growing law enforcement needs. Uniform makers, equipment companies and firearm manufacturers will all find a ready-made market as the Meridian Police Department expands.

 

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

  • 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.

Click here to view original web page at www.mymeridianpress.com

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

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.

Fire District Picks Site For Training

Firefighters In Training

Firefighters In Training

Fire district officials will look to a new site to build a new fire and police training facility due to “significant issues” in the area near the city’s wastewater lagoon. According to City Administrator Russell Rost, a training tower could possibly be built behind the Union Fire Protection District […]

Public Safety Departments and College Partnerships

Over the past 15 years collaboration between polLCCC PSTI Dedication-08_021ice, fire departments and community colleges to share or co-locate training centers has had hot and cold periods. In 1998 the Regional Public Safety Training Center Washoe County Nevada was a joint effort between multiple agencies including the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, City of Reno, City of Sparks, and Truckee Meadows Community College. In 2003 Luzerne Community College began work on a multi agency, Public Safety Training Institute. Universities also remain a strong partner with public safety training schools like the University of West Virginia State Fire Academy that was formed in 1974 and in 2003 undated its training facilities at Jackson’s Mill to accommodate increased demand.

Since the economic down turn of 2008 collaboration efforts has turned hot once again. In a recent national bench DSC00042marking survey undertaking by IBG the “trend” of, merging public safety agencies and colleges has yielded significant improvement to training delivery, curriculum development teamwork, and more important open and cooperative communication between all groups.

In February 2012, IBG initiated a benchmarking effort to “validate the possible” by researching and identifying community colleges that excel in providing public safety training programs to not only their students but also provide training and/or training facilities to agencies within their regional. In order for a Community College to be selected for benchmarking it had to meet certain criteria. First, it must serve multiple disciplines within the public safety/public services fields (i.e. not just police and fire). Second, it must provide a wide range of training programs and curriculum that extend beyond the typical (i.e. shooting range, live fire training) public safety offerings.  Third, it must be affiliated with a two-year or four-year college. IBG closely examined the physical attributes, partnerships and affiliations, programs and curriculums, and management practices of these exceptional training centers. Benchmarking Information Sheets were prepared for each one. The sheets provide insight in a quick read format into what is being done well and what could be improved or changed at these facilities. Based on experience and familiarity with training centers across the nation, IBG identified five of them that are nationally-recognized as training centers of excellence:

  1. Luzerne County Community College Public Safety Training Institute
  2. Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy
  3. Tarrant County College Public Safety Institute
  4. Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex
  5. Washoe County Regional Public Safety Training Center

Today many joint training center partnerships are underway or being formed. Most recently reported was the tentative agreement (details still being worked out) between Madison College and the Madison Fire Department in Madison WI. Other very successful partnerships between colleges and public agencies are reported at the Flatrock Training Center near Denver, Rouge Community College near Medford, OR provide both criminal justice and Emergency Fire Services curriculums that local agencies find very beneficial.

Community colleges play an integral role in public safety training – after all, their goal is to excel at education. Depending on the partnership structure, community colleges can provide something as simple as a steady stream of students or as complex as full management of training center operations. Increasingly, departments are partnering with community colleges. The result is that each benefits exponentially from the skills of the others. Partnerships also enhance both the numbers and the diversity of the student population. Some may be full-time college students, others working firefighters or law enforcement officers.

There are probably as many ways to structure partnerships between community colleges and public agencies as there are training centers in the country. In 2013 and for the foreseeable future partnerships will remain essential and will continue to grow. If a department is considering the development or modification of a training center a college the same partnerships should be at the top of any priority list.

Training, Above All Else, SAFE

Training for police, fire and all emergency responders is essential. Training must be challenging, realistic but above all else, safe. Allow me to repeat, safe. Every training related death is a tragedy and in nearly all cases, avoidable. (I would say in all cases they were avoidable but I do not have the research data to support every training related death.)

Last week a University of Maryland police recruit was critically wounded. Prompted by this tragedy, I set out to look beyond the finger pointing and law suits that are sure to come and try to understand how an accident of this type could take place and then to take another look deeper at the nationally recognized training safety standards.  The following report by the Baltimore Sun provides excellent background on the incident and is supported by several nationally recognized training experts. Several points in the article seem so very obvious, yet need to be repeated over and over again, forever:

    • No gun – even a practice weapon – should be fooled with.
    • Never point a weapon at an item or person unless you intend to shoot it.

Missteps in Trainee Shooting Ran Afoul of Standards, Experts Say Baltimore Police Department promises a full review

By Justin George  | The Baltimore Sun 

The director of Baltimore’s police training academy didn’t know that instructors were holding exercises at an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Owings Mills. There were no supervisors on site. A police service weapon somehow got mixed up with a practice paint-cartridge pistol. The gun was pointed at a trainee . . . click to continue

Here are several more detail reports concerning the trainee shooting

  1. Was It a Joke Gone Wrong?
  2. Concerns That Training Was Not Fully Staffed When Recruit Was Shot
  3. Police refuse to release policies in wake of training shooting