New fire academy, public safety training facility coming to Merced

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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The Hawk Regional Training Center will include firefighter rescue, emergency response education and training services.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tucked away in the Airport Industrial Park on Hawk Drive sits a 16-acre empty lot owned by the city of Merced.

It will soon be transformed and developed into a regional fire academy and public safety training facility.

The Hawk Regional Training Center will include firefighter rescue, emergency response education and training services.

It's a big support to the city's emergency medical service training needs.

"We want to be able to bring that training here locally, we want to be able to burn in a controlled environment, to teach people about thermodynamics, how fire flows through a structure, but we don't have that opportunity right now through the City of Merced," says Merced Fire Chief Derek Parker.

The City of Merced will also partner with Merced College and Merced Union High School District.

Plus, a new facility will be an extension of the Merced College Fire Academy and linked to the newly established Merced College Paramedic Training Program.

President Chris Vitelli says they are preparing the future workforce for public safety.

"Fire technology is a wonderful career, high demand, high wage," he said. "Having this regional training center will create a pipeline for both high school students as well as community members who want to go into the field."

MUHSD already has career technical education programs like woodwork or welding.

Now, high school juniors or seniors interested in careers as a firefighter will be able to receive Emergency Medical Technician, wildland firefighter and first responder training.

Superintendent Alan Peterson says this academy helps high schoolers be job-ready at 18.

"Most of our students have to hold down part-time jobs while going to college, some of them full jobs, so we want them to leave us with those skills," he said.

Right now, the city of Merced is working through the environmental review process with a two-year plan to get classrooms, parking and the training tower up.

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