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Published 12/16/2003
Owens Community College and Texas A&M Officials Collaborate on Homeland Security Initiative

Owens Community College continues forward with the construction of a new Fire and Police Training Center for Professional Development and Homeland Security by recently visiting the Texas Engineering Extension Service at Texas A&M University. The Texas Engineering Extension Service is well known for its world renowned Emergency Services Training Institute and the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.

Owens' Provost Dr. Paul Unger, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Chuck Mann, and Chief Michael Bell, Director and Fire Rescue Operations for the city of Toledo, met with Texas A&M officials to discuss the ongoing development and planning for the College's future state-of-the-art facility.

In addition to the homeland security initiative, the two academic institutions are in the process of discussing the creation of a new articulation agreement. The partnership would enable Owens Fire Science Technology and Criminal Justice Science Technology students to complete a bachelor's degree in fire science or criminal justice through Texas A&M's distance learning educational program.

"Texas A&M University is recognized as a world leader in emergency response training," said Provost Unger. "The opportunity to work with and receive input from such a well-respected institution will be advantageous in our facility's development."

Provost Unger added, "Emergency preparedness plays a critical role in responding to natural disasters and crisis situations. Owens Community College is taking every step possible to provide area police, fire and emergency services personnel with the highest level of multi-agency real-world scenario training."

The Texas Engineering Extension Service trains over 120,000 students annually in fire protection, emergency response and rescue, law enforcement, water and wastewater, transportation and marine environmental safety training. Among its state-of-the-art facilities includes the 120-acre Brayton Fire Training Field, which is regarded as the largest live-fueled, firefighter training center in the world. Adjacent to the Brayton Fire Training Field is the $70 million Disaster City complex. The city features a full-scale urban disaster simulation and is recognized as nation's most comprehensive emergency response training facility.

In addition to Texas A&M's support, the College has assembled a consortium of leaders in emergency services and homeland security to assist within the planning stages of Owens' state-of-the-art facility. Contributors to the project's development is led by Phil Keith, Chief of Police for the city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Chief Keith has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement and in 2002 was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Homeland Security Senior Advisory Committee. He currently is a member of Secretary Tom Ridge's Homeland Security Cabinet.

Preliminary work will commence with the College breaking ground for its new state-of-the-art facility on Thursday, April 29.

Phase I of Owens' initial project will be to install an infrastructure of water lines, gas lines and fiber optic cable. In addition, the Phase will include a smokeless burn building, ponds, utilities, power, lighting, fencing and an observation tower.

Additional Phases could include training facilities such as a fire rescue tower, wet skid and driving pads, and various disaster rescue sites for aircraft, railroad, maritime and land vehicles. Owens' state-of-the-art facility will feature a 27,000 square foot Command and Simulation Center for Regional Anti-Terrorism and Emergency Management. The interior of the Center will consist of a simulation containment chamber, a command center, classrooms, computer and science laboratories and shower/locker facilities.

Each segment of this project will be accompanied by the installation of a fiber optic link video system, which is connected to a computerized system. The innovative technology will allow for real-time observations of training exercises from remote locations.

The College's new $10 million Fire and Police Training Center for Professional Development and Homeland Security will be the only comprehensive facility of this magnitude in the Midwest. Other regional centers are located in Virginia, Georgia and California. The architectural firm of Poggemeyer Design Group Inc. in Bowling Green has been chosen to design the future complex.

Owens' longstanding commitment to regional training for safety forces includes in 2002 signing an agreement with the Ohio Fire Academy to provide college coursework to full- and part-time firefighters throughout the state of Ohio. This collaboration enables fire academy students to earn an Owens associate's degree, while simultaneously receiving instructional training. Owens is the first higher educational institution in the state to offer any type of degree program to Ohio Fire Academy students.

On the Toledo-area Campus, Owens currently offers associate degrees and certificate programs in Fire Science Technology and Criminal Justice Science Technology, as well as Emergency Medical Technician Certification.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 26 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo- area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 40,000 credit and non- credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering 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.


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