$3M secured for new Calif. public safety training facility

The Hawk Regional Training Center will include a tower, emergency vehicle operations course, USAR facilities, and aircraft rescue training


By Abbie Lauten-Scrivner
Merced Sun-Star

MERCED, Calif. — The City of Merced is kick-starting long-term plans for a regional fire academy and public safety training facility that will include firefighter, rescue and emergency response education.

The facility, known as the Hawk Regional Training Center, is slated for construction at the airport industrial park on Hawk Drive and South Thornton Road near the Merced Yosemite Regional Airport.

Sen. Anna Caballero, D- Merced, secured $3 million in grant funding to launch the Hawk Regional Training Center's initial phase.
Sen. Anna Caballero, D- Merced, secured $3 million in grant funding to launch the Hawk Regional Training Center's initial phase. (File photo/Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Development is expected to take shape over the next 10 years, according to a city news release. Sen. Anna Caballero, D- Merced, secured $3 million in grant funding to launch the project's initial phase.

"I am proud to be able to secure public safety investments that benefit residents and families in my Senate District and am encouraged by the partnership and long-term planning of our community leaders," Caballero said in the release.

"This funding will create educational and career pathway opportunities for young people and training and certification programs to ensure first responders are well prepared to serve the community."

The city is currently working through the environmental review process. Phase one plans include completing utility infrastructure and constructing classrooms, restrooms, parking and a training tower within two years, the release said.

Outline of plans

Once finished, the regional training center will offer a campus with classrooms, offices, a training tower, emergency vehicle operations course and other facilities for urban search and rescue.

The Hawk Regional Training Center will also include aircraft rescue training, trench rescue and other types of emergency response education.

The regional training facility will serve as a boon to furthering the City Council's priority of improving public safety training services to protect the health and wellness of the community, Merced Mayor Matt Serratto said.

The city, Merced College and Merced Union High School District will partner to establish a fire career technical pathway and link to the newly-established Merced College Paramedic Training Program, according to the release.

In serving as an extension of the Merced College Fire Academy, the Hawk Regional Training Center will support ongoing fire and emergency medical service training needs for the fire department, police and public works personnel, according to Merced Fire Chief Derek Parker.

"This facility will fill a regional need for education and ongoing training," Parker said.

Merced Union High School District juniors and seniors interested in careers as firefighters will be able to register for a regional occupational program.

After finishing the program, students can emerge with emergency medical technician, wildland firefighter and first responder training.

Students who complete the training will be employable the day after high school graduation or at age 18, according to the release.

"It is programs like this that help make high school relevant for our students. Merced College and MUHSD have a history of developing excellent (career and technical education) opportunities for students," MUHSD Superintendent Alan Peterson said.

"Having the city join us in taking an active leadership role will bring great value to our community."

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(c)2022 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

Visit the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) at www.mercedsunstar.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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