Huntington Beach holds groundbreaking for new youth training center for its police and fire departments
The Explorers programs of Huntington Beach’s police and fire departments will soon have a brand-new place to call their own.
The city held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning for its new Joint Youth Training Center facility.
Located on Gothard Street next to the Central Net Training Center, the 4,693-square-foot facility is scheduled to open next year.
It will cost about $2 million, Huntington Beach Fire Chief Scott Haberle said, to be paid for by American Rescue Plan Act funds that the City Council allocated for use two years ago.
“It is imperative that we invest, not only in our community but also in the future of Huntington Beach and its leaders,” Mayor Tony Strickland said during the ceremony. “The training facility will foster a positive environment for our police and fire Explorers as they gain experience and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”
Haberle added that the Explorers programs run by both the police and fire departments have been growing in recent years, and the new facility will help develop the two departments from within. It will include a 50-seat training classroom as well as new administrative offices and a break room, and the new layout also includes covered parking for five city vehicles.
The current facility has housed the Fire Department’s Explorers program since the early 1980s. Haberle said he started as a fire Explorer when he was 16, growing up in the fire service through the program.
“I’m excited to say just in the Fire Explorer program, we have seven of our Explorers that are currently testing for full-time positions, whether firefighter or ambulance operator, right now this year,” Haberle said. “That’s an exciting example of how this program’s continued to move forward. They’ll be able to do all of the same things that firefighters do in the academy, with our training center right next to this facility.”
Local officials at Thursday’s ceremony also included Eric Parra, the police chief who recently stepped in to serve as interim city manager, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and City Council members Pat Burns, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser.
“Some cities and some people and some councils talk about investing in the future, and some do it,” Parra said. “This council has done that … We want to create good citizens, and we do that here.”
Several Explorers from both HBPD and HBFD also attended the ceremony.
HBPD Explorer Capt. Lainie Shield, 18, recently graduated from Huntington Beach High School and is currently attending Golden West College.
“I’m very excited,” Shield said. “We’ll have space for all of our new Explorers, and it’ll be just a better environment for us to learn in.”
Ethan Atwood, 20, is an Edison High graduate who is attending Santa Ana College. He has become an ambulance operator through the HBFD Explorer program.
“With it being a joint post, both police and fire as well, we have that ability to meet people on both sides,” he said. “We will run calls with them in the future, so being able to bounce ideas off each other and really being able to work fluidly as a team, I’m looking forward to that. It’s just one big family here.”
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