Local First Responder Training Center Enhances Crisis Preparedness
Guernsey, in collaboration with the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the City of Midwest City, hosted a tour of the new Midwest City Police and Fire Training Center on Wednesday, Oct. 18. Nearly 30 people attended the tour, representing numerous municipalities in and around OKC. The tour featured a one-on-one briefing with Guernsey Architect Maria Angelica Prado, who shared valuable insights into the project's scope, the challenges encountered during the design phase and the strategies employed to turn the vision into a reality.
Visitors had the opportunity to explore the new 'burn tower,' which serves as the project's centerpiece due to its unique features. The facility's location was chosen strategically to ensure immediate local emergency response during tactical training, keeping the community's needs in mind.
“Municipalities and leaders who run our communities have an opportunity to learn from one another, and the new Police & Fire Training Center in Midwest City is the perfect place to showcase,” said Erica Jones, American Public Works Association Oklahoma Chapter President. “When we communicate and share best practices, the entire Oklahoma region becomes stronger, more efficient and of better value to the people we serve – the citizens.”
What sets the four-story tower apart is the intentional design to represent some of the tallest buildings in Midwest City. This strategic approach enables Midwest City firefighters to train for real-life scenarios, including rappelling training, that specifically address challenges within their community.
Notably, one side of the burn tower replicates typical apartments found in Midwest City, complete with railings that have posed challenges in some first responder situations, offering invaluable training experiences for emergency crews. Inside the burn tower, the movable walls allow for flexible space layouts, mirroring different building configurations to enhance training diversity.
The versatile training room easily transitions from a classroom style to an open space for defensive tactics. It boasts an innovative open ceiling with elevated windows for natural light into the space without affecting presentation walls and a floating cloud ceiling for shade and sound reduction, showcasing a modern design with exposed to structure detailing.
The heavily wooded construction site posed uncertainties about post-tree removal topography. The goal was to emphasize the 'burn tower' and the building's prominence. Two external restrooms prevent debris tracking, while a northwest patio allows for potential expansions.
“The outstanding relationship between the Midwest City Police and Fire Departments allowed for a very successful team effort between the Chiefs and Guernsey to design this Training Center to meet the needs of both departments. Together, we envisioned and executed not just any conventional structure, but a versatile multi-use space with resiliency and future growth in mind,” said Maria Angelica Prado, Guernsey architect. “Sharing our journey, including the hurdles we encountered and how we overcame them, enables other municipalities to explore their own possibilities.”
The training center includes a monument wall, with one side displaying the Police oath and the other featuring the Fireman's oath, showcasing why first responders do what they do and why the facility is so important.
A voter-approved bond issued in 2018 paved the way for the new training facility, making this development a tangible result of community investment and support.