Carlsbad’s new safety training center taking shape
December 16, 2010
Carlsbad’s Joint First Responders Training Facility is beginning to take shape as construction crews have completed much of the site preparation and underground work and begun to raise the block walls of the complex’s five-story training tower.
There’s been a lot of activity since ground was broken in September on the new safety training center, which is next to the city’s Public Safety and Service Center on Orion Way, but much of the work to date has consisted of putting up wood frames for concrete pours and laying underground sewer and water pipes.
City of Carlsbad Police Capt. Bill Rowland, who’s overseeing the project for the Police Department, said builders have completed the foundation and begun to raise the first level of the training tower where public safety personnel — police officers, firefighters and utility workers — will hone their rescue skills while simulating real-life emergencies.
“For me it’s real gratifying to see it come together,” said Rowland, who’s participated in planning and designing the project over the past seven years. “It’s going to be a first-class training center that benefits the whole region.”
The City of Carlsbad has an excellent public safety record with low crime rates and one of the top-rated fire departments in the state. Emergency personnel have been traveling around the county to train, so the new center will cut down travel time and keep police and fire crews in Carlsbad during training, saving operations costs.
The complex will consist of three buildings, including a two-story indoor shooting range and classroom building. The range will actually contain two ranges, one 100 yards long and the other 25 yards long, and will have movable props and walls and light and smoke effects so officers can simulate scenarios they may encounter in real life.
The five-story tower will serve as a training ground for public safety workers and utility crews, and a smaller building will serve as a mock residence where firefighters can practice house fires and police can rehearse tactical responses. A separate feature will be a simulated commercial storefront with movable props, to add a real-life touch to the training.
Deputy City Engineer Bill Plummer said one of the major tasks during the past three months has been to sink the water and sewer pipes beneath the ground, including a 20,000-gallon water tank that will capture the water that firefighters spray during their exercises. The tank, which is 35 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, or roughly the size of a small rail tank car, is one of the many tools the new training center will use to minimize its effect on the local environment.
“Whatever they spray in that building goes into that tank, then gets pumped out,” Plummer said. He said the practice fires will be fueled by natural gas in a controlled environment, and specially designed filters will screen debris and small particles caused by weapons fire, so the effluent will be clean enough for irrigation.
Rowland said work is nearly complete on an underground rescue prop where police officers, firefighters and utility workers will practice subterranean rescue. The tubes have various diameters and intersect at tight angles, so emergency workers will crawl through dark and narrow tunnels that have surprise junctions during training, just as they may in an actual emergency.
Carlsbad Fire Battalion Chief Mike Lopez, the Fire Department’s liaison on the project, said this underground device is the first of its kind in the country that he knows of.
The City of Carlsbad has already started discussions with the FBI, DEA, neighboring police and fire departments and other public agencies that can also benefit from using the new training center.
“There are a few training props out there but not as elaborate as this one,” Lopez said.
Plummer said that while construction crews were busy on the underground utilities, masons were putting up mock walls to determine the building blocks’ final appearance.
That look will become apparent as the months go by and the buildings go up. The project, which is being built at a cost of $16.5 million, is expected to be complete by early 2012.
Ledcor Construction Inc. of San Diego was awarded the construction contract. The facility’s design team is RMM Design Group, and Dudek & Associates is providing construction management services.