solutions: Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA)
- Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) was built nearly 40 years ago.
- Projected cost of needed modernization is approximately $25 million.
- Plan is to relocate PSTA and construct a modern, efficient campus.
- Travilah Fire Station will be constructed near intersection of Md. 28 and Great Seneca Highway.
- Current Uses of the PSTA (see PDF presentation | 389 KB)
- Correspondence with Montgomery Village Foundation (see PDF letter | 150 KB)
Commonly Asked Questions:
- Why are these facilities being relocated? The facilities are nearly 40 years old. The PSTA was developed inefficiently and is spread out over the entire site. There are buildings and functions that are obsolete and the facilities are in a bad state of repair. Extensive modernization is required at a projected budget of $25 million. Even with the modernization, the facility layout will still be inefficient. For such a sizable investment, a new facility will have better long term sustainability and cost efficiency. Additionally, the current site is in the heart of the County’s life sciences activities with the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, Johns Hopkins, and University of Maryland surrounding the site. The County has plans to expand the biosciences segment of its economy to ensure ongoing development of high-paying jobs for County residents and to retain its place as a leader in the biosciences industry. It is important that we keep these jobs from leaving the County and expanding that sector. The PSTA site is a key piece of the heart of the biosciences and higher education center for the County.
- Why are these facilities needed? Competent fire and rescue services and law enforcement begin with confidence that is forged through training. Realistic and challenging training exercises are key in preparing our volunteer and career responders for the diverse and difficult emergencies that they will be called upon to manage. Through both computer simulation and stage preparation we need to create training conditions that can prepare our responders to handle real emergencies.
- Why the Webb-Tract? The Webb Tract is attractive because it is industrially-zoned, conveniently-located, provides a suitably-sized parcel, is on the market, and the site infrastructure is under development. The Webb Tract location is suitable for career and volunteer first responder training.
- How frequently will the campus be used? The campus is comprised of both classroom and staged training. Presently, the training academy is used daily throughout the year in support of volunteer and career staff training initiatives.
- Who will use this facility and what will be the average number of people using the campus daily?
The campus will be primarily used by Montgomery County law enforcement officers, and career and volunteer fire-fighters. At times our public safety personnel engage in training activities at other jurisdictions. Likewise, occasionally we invite public safety personnel to our facilities for a course. A number of times per year there is transit training as well. An average of 210 people will use the facility on a daily basis.
- Will trainees bring their public safety vehicles on site with them? Sometimes trainees may. However a few trucks and emergency response vehicles are maintained on site for training, reducing the need to bring such vehicles to the site.
- What kinds of fires will be used for training at the new facility? Training fires are staged and controlled. They will be strategically-located, non-toxic, smokeless, and odorless propane fires. Non-toxic and odorless theatre smoke that dissipates rapidly when exposed to the open air will be used to simulate real smoke.
- Will operations at the airpark be affected by these facilities? We have been working with the airpark to ensure that operations there will not be affected. As with any of the adjacent properties, we are firmly committed to “good neighbor” practices through careful and thoughtful site development of the new facility. We will involve the community in the proposed site layout process.
- What will we see and hear from the new facility? Sights and sounds from the campus will be minimized using engineering, buffers, and design. Sights and sounds will also be minimized by scheduling training during low-impact times of the day. A sound study conducted at the existing PSTA in connection with a high-end residential project being developed next door concluded that sounds are within acceptable limits. Sight and sound are key considerations in site layout and, as mentioned above, we will work with the community to ensure that sight and sound are within tolerable limits.
- What environmental considerations will accompany the new facility? Environmental and health–related safeguards are at the forefront of new facility design efforts. The by-products of the theatrical smoke and propane fires are non-toxic and odorless. These activities will be placed on the approximately 29-41 acre site so that the theatrical smoke will not enter adjacent properties. There will be no burning of hazardous materials or materials with hazardous byproducts. Vehicle props that will be used for training activities will be created so that there will be no unintended burning of tires. To the extent feasible, we are looking at increasing training activities through computer simulation rather than staged activities, however staged activities training will not be eliminated. The soapy, water-based Skid Pan solution does not pose any environmental or health risk to the users or the environment.