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DPS breaks ground on first training facility
Southlake's Department of Public Safety (DPS) held the groundbreaking for its new training facility.
The Southlake Department of Public Safety North Training Facility broke ground Friday morning at White Chapel Boulevard and Dove Road. Once completed, the new facility will be close to 37,000 square feet and will have an indoor firing range; police reporting stations and a ladder company with four firefighters on each shift to cover the north end of Southlake.
"It's exciting for us to break ground on this new facility. We usually have to go off-site for training, but this changes everything. Right now we have long response times because there's not a facility on the north side of the city. This new facility will allow us to have quicker responses," said Michael Starr, fire chief. "This may also decrease insurance ratings for homes in northern Southlake. It allows police officers to stay within their district and with the new gun range, it will give more opportunities to qualify and be proficient. This new facility will save the city money."
Currently, Southlake DPS has two facilities: DPS headquarters and DPS West, which houses most of the traffic patrol. Starr said the goal of opening the new training facility is to bring training to the city and allow space to give classes.
"The main component of the facility will be training," Starr said. "There will be some offices, a large auditorium for classrooms, a work out facility, a fire apparatus base and a gun range."
The DPS North Training facility will also be available for use by other local police and fire departments. This will allow for multi-agency training at the indoor gun range. The plans for the new facility have been years in the making. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the DPS North project in January 2010 and it was then approved by the Southlake City Council June of 2010.
"The new facility will greatly enhance the response times for police and fire services for the residents in the northern part of the city," said Jim Blagg, DPS director.
The facility will also have a fully staffed fire truck company including firefighters trained in advanced life support, which will allow for a faster medical response for the residents in that part of the city.
"This facility helps the city keep a promise of enhanced safety and security for our residents," said Shana Yelverton, city manager. "The vision of the city council and the Crime Control Prevention District Board will be realized in about 14 months when construction is complete."
Starr said the department plans to hire six additional employees in January and another six the following year. The fire department currently has 51 firefighters.
"We have been involved with the planning of this facility since day one," Starr said. "Plans were sent out, and we were able to make comments and suggestions. We've tried to keep all employees involved in this process."