PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, OH - Thousands of first responders will now have the opportunity to heighten their emergency preparedness skills in the latest experiential training and educational resource center around as Owens Community College’s Center for Emergency Preparedness formally opens the doors to a new $3.2 million Training and Operations Center.
The new facility will serve as the “hub” for the Center for Emergency Preparedness and provide first responders with expanded opportunities for real-world, scenario-based training highlighted by the only indoor emergency services virtual training system in the country.
“Owens Community College’s new Training and Operations Center is a welcome addition to the Center for Emergency Preparedness and fulfills a need for a rather expansive facility to conduct year-round training within a climate controlled setting,” said Michael Cornell, Owens Director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness. “Providing first responders with the highest level in realistic training is essential to preparing them for actual emergency situations. This new Training and Operations Center reinforces the College’s commitment to meeting the emergency preparedness education and training needs throughout the region and beyond by offering experiential learning resources unlike any other facility in the country.”
Owens representatives joined community leaders, first responders and elected officials in recently celebrating the new state-of-the-art facility’s unveiling with an official ribbon cutting ceremony, which highlighted the emergency services virtual training system, and an open house.
Owens’ new 28,790 square-foot Training and Operations Center was built at the west entrance to the Center for Emergency Preparedness and is intended to provide first responders with expanded opportunities for real-world, scenario training highlighted by the only indoor emergency services virtual training system in the country. The virtual training system features a one-of-a-kind video projection scenario program, which is displayed onto separate glass walls located within four separate pods. First responders will have the opportunity to conduct a variety of structure burn scenarios within each 221 square-foot pod to include residential, commercial, processing and electrical fires, using actual water in a controlled virtual fire and smoke-filled environment. The system is designed to replicate a city scene with various buildings ranging from a single- to four-story complex. Actual virtual training scenarios include a bedroom fire, storage facility fire, washer/dryer fire and a living room fire, among many others. In addition to virtual fire training opportunities, the Center for Emergency Preparedness in the midst of developing several other scenarios to include a virtual school house active shooter training exercise.
A total of seven rooms comprise the emergency services structure, as well as a pitched roof ventilation training system area for individuals to conduct exercises using various types of equipment and techniques.
Additionally, the structure will feature a Firearms Training System (FATS), which is an interactive simulated system designed to provide training in the handling and use of small and supporting firearms, as well as confronting hostile assailants. Two stairwells, a Bose sound system, infrared training monitoring cameras and a fire sprinkler training system are also housed within the four-story emergency services structure. The exterior of the indoor building can be used for high angle rescue, ground and aerial ladder drills, apparatus placement, high rise hose evolution, and rappel entry and exit training. The entire 62-foot high bay complex, which also features 10 overhead garage doors, can simulate heavy smoke conditions produced through five smoke generators.
Additional Training and Operations Center features include six classrooms, eight offices, two reception areas and locker room facilities. The facility also houses Owens Center for Emergency Preparedness staff and will serve as the Northwest Ohio regional training site for the Ohio Fire Academy.
Designed by the firm Sitzenstock Associates Inc. of Maumee, the exterior of the building features an insulated finishing system around the single-story portion of the facility, while metal encircles the Training and Operations Center’s high bay complex. Owens’ signature color red is present atop the building’s metal roof. Van Tassel Construction Co. of Ottawa Lake, Mich. served as the general contractor, while Gem Industrial Inc. of Walbridge, Brint Electric Inc. of Toledo and Accel Fire Systems Inc. of Sylvania oversaw the plumbing/mechanical, electrical and fire protection contracts, respectively. The indoor emergency services virtual training system was created by Baker Media Productions Inc. in Findlay.
In 2007, Owens marked a milestone in the academic institution’s history by opening a new $20.5 million Center for Emergency Preparedness. The new Center for Emergency Preparedness fulfills a need for a rather expansive complex within the region that can provide “real-world” training in a safe and controlled environment.
Potential training scenarios that can be conducted within the new facility include those related to natural and manmade disasters involving hazardous materials, confined spaces, riots, entrapments and weapons of mass destruction, among others. Currently, there is no higher education facility for multi agencies to conduct concurrent emergency response training of this magnitude in the Midwest.
Owens’ 110-acre Center for Emergency Preparedness features full-size, state-of-the-art training props/simulators, including a fire behavior lab (flashover trainer), a five-story computer controlled fire training tower, tank truck live fire simulator, live propane BLEVE simulator, urban search and rescue building collapse simulator, confined space rescue simulator, car fire simulator, extrication pad, water/dive/ice rescue training pond, rail tanker car live fire simulator, emergency vehicle operations and driving course, a Boeing 727 aircraft, a search and rescue trainer, rail cars and roof ventilating system. The facility also includes a mock city replicating a community infrastructure such as a gas station with a convenience store, a bank, an emergency room and several single family homes that feature an evidence house and a meth lab.
Since opening the facility, many police, fire and emergency services personnel, as well as the military, from Ohio and beyond, including the FBI, Ohio National Guard and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, have utilized the facility for either specialized or concurrent emergency preparedness training.
One of the fastest-growing higher educational institutions in Ohio, Owens Community College is a fully accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.