CFO Sink: New Urban Search and Rescue Training Facility Will Make Florida Better Prepared for Disaster
CONTACT: Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
Emergency Management Director Fugate Joins in Dedication Ceremony
OCALA – Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink said a new Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) training facility, one of the first of its kind in the nation to simulate a post-blast environment with smoke and heat, represents the state’s continuing commitment to be better prepared for potential disasters.
“After the attacks on Sept. 11, we learned that if we were to be prepared for the unimaginable, that we had to do even more,” said CFO Sink during a dedication ceremony held today. “This facility represents that commitment to do more to be prepared.”
Located on the campus of the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, the facility provides various training scenarios including collapsed floors and ceilings, crushed vehicles, concrete, wire, and other hazards to train responders how to search through rubble for victims. The facility, built with federal homeland security and state domestic security funds, cost $1.2 million. Florida’s Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate also attended and spoke at today’s ceremony.
“In Florida, we have learned the value of training and preparing for all hazards," said Director Fugate. "This vital facility will help prepare our first responders so they can better meet the needs of our 18 million residents."
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire Standards and Training, also has a mobile training unit with multiple entry points designed to represent street manholes and hatch entries for railroad tank cars, trucks, ships, non-pressurized above- or below-ground tanks, and more. The mobile unit, which cost $250,000, also offers more than two dozen internal arrangements to simulate different scenarios, and thermal imaging allows trainers to view the student’s progress in darkness or smoke.
To date, more than $45 million in Homeland Security funds have been funneled through the State Fire Marshal’s Office to provide more than 182,000 hours of disaster training and provide equipment for fire departments and emergency responders throughout the state, including nine Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces in Florida (seven state task forces and two FEMA task forces) and 53 Light Technical Rescue Teams. The task forces have been used to respond to hurricanes and tornadoes both in Florida and in neighboring states.
For more information on the new training facility and the Florida State Fire College visit www.fldfs.com
and click on State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire Standards and Training.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.