Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 7:05 am | Fair 38º


$1.4 Million Donation Funds Mission-Critical Components at Public Safety Training Complex

When a fire makes a room so hot that everything, even the gases in the air, spontaneously combust, the room explodes into a ball of fire. It is one of the most feared events among firefighters, and most deadly, according to Allan Hancock College Fire Academy coordinator Andy Densmore.

A newly installed flashover simulator/trainer at the college’s Public Safety Training Complex is the first piece of equipment funded by a $1.4 million anonymous donation to support training at the complex.  The gift is targeted to enhancing the training capabilities at the 1.3 mile high speed driving track, as well as for fire training, like the new simulator.

In the case of the flashover simulator, it now makes it possible for firefighters to safely observe fire behavior and to recognize the signs that lead to the flashover phenomenon in a controlled setting.

“By creating these fire conditions over and over again, firefighters are provided with the knowledge and skills to deal with and to survive a flashover situation,” Densmore explained.

The flashover simulator/trainer has already been incorporated into the fire academy curriculum and will also be an essential component to in-service training for veteran firefighters who train at the facility.

Knowing that more police officers die in traffic-related incidents than die from firearms-related incidents, inspired the same donor to help fund critical components of the facility’s Emergency Vehicles Operations Course (EVOC).

According to Public Safety Associate Dean David Senior, the EVOC’s city grid and scenario village were the most important components of the training course that required additional funds to complete, and were not included in the original construction scope. The gift will help build out those facilities, as well as provide the dollars needed to incorporate lighting, status lights and other amenities at the track.  The track enhancements are being designed now.

“This is one of the largest gifts in the history of the college and it is fitting that it supports a facility that focuses on building careers in public service.  And to know that those public safety professionals, in turn, will save lives in the long course of their careers makes the gift all the more incredible,” said Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, Ph.D.

Senior explained that the city grid and scenario village replicate residential neighborhoods and city blocks.

“The environment provides police and fire students, as well as veteran public safety personnel, with the challenge of transitioning between high speed highway driving and driving on more confined city streets with sharp turns," he said. "The city grid provides a location in which trainees are challenged with incorporating good driving skills, using critical thinking and decision making thus balancing the obligation to drive safely, tactically and responsibly against the apprehension of violators or responding to an emergent critical event.”

The proximity of the “neighborhoods” to the driving course will give instructors an opportunity to teach officers the stressors associated with Code 3 or “pursuit situations” and suspects fleeing on foot from the vehicle into buildings.

Jeff Cotter, executive director of the college’s foundation, added that “the ‘cause’ was right for the donor and the grant was a result of a wonderful team effort between representatives from the police and fire academies, college administrators and the foundation.”

The high speed track is one of the features of the $38 million, 68-acre complex that opened in January. It is the premier public safety training center in the West, serving both new public safety professionals, and veterans who train for emergencies year round.

— Gina Herlihy is a public affairs technician for Allan Hancock College.

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