The Public Safety Training Center at Luzerne County Community College, PA

In May, 2007 the Interact Business Group brought you the story of the eventful groundbreaking of the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) Regional Public Safety Training Institute (PSTI).  Now, less than one year later, this dream became reality on Friday, April 25, 2008, at the ribbon-cutting dedication of Phase One of the training institute. 

The facility is situated on 34-acres at the Nanticoke, PA campus. It will serve a 10-county region and is located at Luzerne, the largest college in Northeast Pennsylvania.

A proud Scranton Firefighters Honor Guard, IAFF Local 60, and the Ceol Mor Pipe and Drum Band led the opening procession along with cheers from the hundreds in attendance as the Public Safety Training Institute was dedicated. The Fire Arch was compliments of the Nanticoke City Fire Department’s ladder trucks from Luzerne and Columbia counties, along with the Reliance Fire Company #1 from Berwick. Firefighters from neighboring states marched alongside.

The welcome was given by President Thomas P. Leary, president of LCCC. Other officials in attendance were Luzerne County Commissioner, Gregory A. Skrepenak (who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the College, and chair of the LCCC Foundation Capital Campaign); House Representative (D-Nanticoke), the Honorable John T. Yudichak (119th Legislative District); James Wills, president of the Luzerne County Fire & Rescue Training Association; Dr. Karen Flannery, dean of Public Safety Training and Special Initiatives; and James Ellis, LCCC Fire Science student and PSTI volunteer. The crowd swelled to include faculty, staff, administration, first responders from near and far, as well as regional residents.

Also there to enjoy the dedication and to realize the dream was President and CEO Bill Booth, of the Interact Business Group.  The Interact Business Group (IBG) was responsible for the business plan or blueprint for the project’s success.  Interact’s Plan included the long-term needs assessment, facility plan, daily operations plan and funding strategies. 

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One component IBG utilized was to survey regional police, fire and EMS departments from nine counties in order to ascertain their interest in use of the new facility. Fire and EMS departments, and law enforcement, responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” when questioned whether they would send students to the new training center (97.5% and 100%, respectively). They also listed classes they would be interested in attending, and LCCC listened.

Acknowledgements went to Architects A+E Group, Inc., and Edmeades & Stromdahl, Ltd.; General Contractor, Magnotta Construction Co., Inc.; with Food Service recognition to LCCC’s Operation’s Manager, Raymond Vendor.

Just one year earlier on March 30, 2007, Commissioner Skrepenak remarked at the ground breaking ceremony for the facility, “The LCCC Public Safety Training Institute will be a beacon promoting safer communities all across Northeastern Pennsylvania… I’d like to thank the college officials, the members of the Institute Planning Task Force, members of area law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical responders who took time, brought their expertise to people who live in our ten-county area.”

This similar sentiment was echoed by Bill Booth of IBG, “From our very first meeting in the spring of 2004 at Luzerne I knew that we would be working with a special group of dedicated people that always kept community first, in order to provide a unique training center for those that daily dedicate their lives to protecting and keeping us safe.”

Now, said Karen Flannery, dean of Public Safety Training and Special Initiatives, “With Phase One of construction complete and four phases to go, the training center will provide state-of-the-art equipment not only for firefighters but also police officers, emergency medical technicians and students at LCCC.”  Phase One included development of the entire site with utilities, a 9,000 square-foot building that houses a three-bay apparatus space, maintenance shop, classrooms, storage areas, and a parking lot.  The newly completed five-story tactical burn building/tower by WHP is equipped with a gas simulator and Class A fire capability.

The facility will have the capability of training more than 4,000 fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians. The courses will provide the necessary hands-on training needed to handle emergency situations, technical field training, search and rescue, lethal weapons training, and emergency vehicle maneuvers. Students will work to develop the physical and mental skills that are necessary to make split-minute decisions and ultimately save lives.

Additional Phases will include:

  • Phase Two—Driving Training Pad, Skid Pad, more specialized training areas
  • Phase Three—Outdoor Training Areas and Police Shooting Range
  • Phase Four—Permanent Administration and Classroom Building(s)
  • Phase Five—Hogan’s Alley, K-9 Area, Smoke House, Forcible Entry, other props

No longer will firefighters be sent as far away as Maryland to train. Per firefighter Jim Wills, “We’re finally going to have a place where we can train properly. We’re going to have lives and property saved.”

“After attending the dedication ceremony on Friday, April 25, 2008 at the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) Regional Public Safety Training Institute, I know that their dream has become a reality, and they should be very proud of their training center, as it is a crown jewel of the northeast U.S,” said Mr. Booth.