Carlsbad Fire and Police; Training At It’s Best

In preparing this month newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genially deserve. Interact Business Group had the pleasure of working with the facility staff and the police fire and facilities department of over the past 12 months 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 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 not 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. (continue..)

Carlsbad during a live fire training session, using FireBlast prop

Carlsbad Public Safety Training Center / August 11, 2012 | Photo by Charlie Neuman
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Training Center Money; More Than One Color

When considering funding for a new public safety training facility there are at least TWO colors of money: money for construction and money for operations. Both are important, but many times the latter is the color overlooked or misunderstood.

Today I will discuss the latter. What will it cost to operate your training center on an annual basis? This is often difficult for departments to determine. For example, how many staff members or sub-contractors are needed to keep a training center operational and running efficiently? What are the estimated yearly expenses for necessities such as electricity, water, janitorial services, maintenance and other elements necessary for a smooth-running operation? Or more specifically, what are the true costs of fuel for the live-burn fire props or the cost to run the air ventilation system at the indoor shooting range?

Fire and Police Training Dollars

New Police and Fire Training Trends Emerge

Over the past couple of years I have seen several newly constructed training centers that were built with taxpayer approved bond initiatives or projects that received CIP approval prior to the 2008 economic downturn that are now facing great budget challenges for monthly and annual operations expenses. In these cases money for construction was the easy part. Now faced with budget cutbacks and layoffs, departments are faced with finding creative ways of maintaining training mandates and at the same time trying to pay the utility bills, and keep training equipment operational. We have helped training center managers re-think and modify their daily operational activities and policies. There is no one solution or “silver bullet” that can be applied to all training center sustainability challenges.  As with most things it comes down to hard work and commitment. Based on a national perspective, I see some key trends emerging. Coninue reading:

Some of the Best Training Public Safety Facilities

These facilities are not the newest or the most expensive, but they are all stand-outs for excellence in planning and execution. They are worth looking at and learning from before beginning your Training Center Business Plan to plan or build a police or fire new training center.

Click on the name of each school for their Benchmaked Report:

 
Luzerne County Community College, Public Safety Training Institute
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
 
Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy
Glenview, Illinois
 
Tarrant County College Public Safety Institute
Fort Worth, Texas
 
Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex
Ft. Pierce, Florida
 
Washoe County Regional Public Safety Training Center
Washoe County, Nevada
 
 

Economic News and Its Impact on Public Safety

The economic news coming from cities and counties nationwide is abysmal. With the nation in a deep recession since 2007, some say even larger budget cuts are now reaching public safety agencies. It seems that only one year ago these daily headlines were unheard of: Budget Cuts Reach Public Safety, Fire Department Copes With Budget Cuts And Staff Shortages or Fire Department Cancels Recruit Academy. But today, these and similar headlines are common. Here in San Diego, Police Chief William Lansdowne is predicting a loss of more than 100 sworn officers. As reported in the USA Today, nearly 70% of police agencies have cut back or eliminated training programs this year as part of local government budget reductions (according to a survey this fall of 608 agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum).

Looking for Ways to Reduce Police and Fire Department Costs

Last month the Public Safety Training e-Newsletter featured an article from the Fresno Fire Department outlining their plan to replace sworn training staff with civilian instructors. Since the Fresno article was broadcast in mid-September many newsletter readers have told me similar stories regarding changes to their training departments. Simply doing more with less is the new mantra and it appears to have become the “new normal.”  I have spoken to major metropolitan agencies and small rural training departments — all are looking (most forced) to find more efficient ways to deliver training. Apparently even in hard times new visions and ideas can still emerge. Some of the ideas are really exciting and in some cases “out of the box,” such as: consolidation of multiple department training exercises, distance learning technologies, collaboration with community college programs, live podcast training classes, and merging of intra governmental department training classes.

How Emergency Management Is Changing

Like all professions, emergency management has evolved throughout the years to become what it is today – a defined field of work that’s paving a career path for future employees. The modern concept of emergency management has grown from the civil defense days – when in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a federal office to protect civilians and respond to community needs in wartime. As state and local governments saw the need for programs focusing on emergency management, veterans and retired first responders were the go-to candidates to fill these positions.

Emergency management has had its share of challenges as people – from government and the public – sought to understand what it is and why it’s important. Even though historically there has always been some aspect of emergency management in the United States, hurricanes and earthquakes in the late 1960s and early ’70s were catalysts behind legislation and an increased focus on natural disasters. Then in 1979, FEMA was created by presidential order, and people saw the likenesses between the agency and civil defense. There also was a shift toward focusing on all hazards.

Since the profession was traditionally filled with first responders and veterans, it was a male-dominated field, but that’s changing, and programs are developing to educate the work force’s next generation  …read more

This article reprinted by permission of EmergencyManagement.com

By: Elaine Pittman

Police Fire Facility Cost and Funding Benefit Analysis

Here’s something to think about:

These are difficult funding times, as everyone is aware.  If I’m an elected official, a Mayor, Councilperson or County Commissioner, I must ask the question:

  • “Why should I support the Public Safety Facility project?”

You must be prepared with a strong response, to answer this question—and make no mistake—this question will be asked.  If the project is in competition with other projects across the city and this is usually the case.  Ask yourself three questions:

  1. “What must I do to make my Project stand out?”

  2. “What need does it solve?”

  3.  “How do I prove it?”

You must be prepared with a strong response, to answer this question—and make no mistake—this question will be asked. Here are several example of what I mean;

  • Are you renting existing facilities to conduct training classes?  This is a Hard Cost that could be saved by having your own facility.

  • How much time are you spending driving to other centers?

  • What are your overhead costs associated with having to drive to other facilities?

  • Look at your vehicle driving / accident records.  How many accidents have you had?  Documented studies have shown at more drivers training leads to few accidents.

  •  Would your insurance premiums benefit from a strong, safe, driving consistent driving program?

  • Think about Partner with other fire agencies, or, with other law enforcement agencies across the country. Partnerships are certainly a growing trend across the country.

I have spoken about the value of Partnerships in past video casts

When considering Cost Benefits… Keep one thing in mind:

Funding is competition!

Many other departments and project are competing for the same dollar.

You have to beat your competition.  In order to do so, you must have a strong, well thought, well-document Strategic Plan. I’m Bill Booth, and this has been something to think about for a new facility design.

Providing a strong Cost Benefit Analysis is a critical element in the funding battle.

In the following 3 minute video I address this issue in some detail.