As Hancock College closes in on the largest-scale exercise yet at its Public Safety Training Complex, officials are making repairs to one area of the year-old facility and preparing for a new community partner.
The PSTC, which opened to police, fire and other emergency response students in January 2014, will host about 70 personnel from nine fire agencies and task forces in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties Monday for a large-scale mobilization drill that will last throughout the day.
The exercise, which isn’t open to the public, is designed to simulate a significant earthquake event.
“Hosting drills like this is what we dreamed about when we designed the facility,” said Doug Dickson, the interim director of the fire, safety and EMS programs at the Lompoc facility.
At least one area of the complex, however, is already undergoing a facelift.
The school and the state architect agency determined during the fall semester that changes would be necessary at the complex’s shooting range. Essentially, according to Felix Hernandez, the school’s vice president of facilities, the architects decided to change the design of the materials that held up the bullet absorption components.
The original materials “did not meet standards,” according to David Senior, the college’s associate dean of public safety.
Because of that decision, the gun range was closed down and all shooting training was moved to the nearby U.S. Penitentiary at Lompoc.
Senior noted that the prison has been a great partner and that the change in venue hasn’t disrupted any classes or training.
Hernandez said that he anticipates the on-campus range will be back up and running in about two months. He added that repairs like this aren’t unusual with new structures.
“Every brand-new building will have some little bugs,” he said. “This is nothing out of the ordinary.”
Kevin Walthers, Hancock’s president/superintendent, said the issue is minor in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s a slight inconvenience and that’s it,” he said.
While that remodel is ongoing, the facility could also be expanding in the near future, thanks to a new community partnership.
The Hancock Board of Trustees approved a joint agreement in January to lease about an acre of land to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, which would build its own training facilities at the complex and also a 9-1-1 emergency call and dispatch center for the North County.
The school and fire department, which would each utilize the new facility for training, now are just waiting on the Board of Supervisors to approve the arrangement.
Hancock officials anticipate the new facility bringing permanent jobs to the Lompoc area, one of several potential benefits.
“It’s a great partnership,” Walthers said of teaming with the county. “We’re just giving them the land for it and they’re going to put the facility there. It’s a perfect situation. That’s how we’re supposed to be doing stuff.”