The Emergency Services Training Centre (ESTC) in Blyth, Ontario is a resounding success. In the nine years since it was established, it has become a model for fire, emergency response and corporate training in Ontario. In 2003, the concept for the Emergency Services Training Centre was developed when “need met opportunity.” The ESTC was designed to:
- Develop unique programs to meet the specific demands of the target groups, with special training requirements;
- Establish mutually beneficial relationships with various organizations;
- Create programs for the 88% of Ontario fire departments with volunteer members; and
- Create programs for the agricultural community in mid-western Ontario.
The ESTC opened in July 2004, with a ribbon cutting by then Ontario Fire Marshal Bernard Moyle. The Centre was originally designed to meet the demand for practical hands-on training by municipal fire services and the private sector. The response to this new method of learning was immediate and sustained: The small facility on ¾-acre of land quickly began to grow into an industry leader with 18 training props and facilities covering a still-growing 7-acre complex. Over $800,000 in cash and in-kind donations have been contributed to ESTC from commercial and industrial partners. In 2011 that investment continued with the addition of $1.9 million in site improvements, including an 18,000 square foot technology building complete with classrooms, washrooms and a large apparatus bay able to accommodate 12 apparatus. This improvement also included additions to our burn building and complete site paving.
In 2005, ESTC provided its first Ontario Fire College (OFC) course for rural fire fighters, providing volunteer firefighter courses in cooperation with the Ontario Fire College. The ESTC is recognized as a satellite campus of the OFC.
Due to demand for propane fire training, the Ontario Propane Association (OPA) funded development of the most advanced propane fire training ground in Canada. In 2006, ESTC held the first propane association response team course. Since that time, the number of courses has quadrupled, with a sustained waiting list. We now partner with the Canadian Propane Association and the Liquefied Propane Emergency Response Corporation (LPERC) in providing advanced propane emergency training.
For the coming year, the propane association has increased the course offering by 50%, and with mandatory 3-year recertification, that number will itself double in 2012. In addition, ESTC has developed the advanced level Propane Emergencies curriculum and is the only site in Canada capable of offering either of these programs.
The demand for training at ESTC continues to increase. The ESTC is the only provider in Ontario to offer advanced level propane emergency training, and is the province’s training site for Canadian Propane Association emergency response personnel (including industry and fire services from communities with propane plants). Today, the ESTC draws students from industrial workplaces and fire services across the province and the United States.