Melbourne is now home to the world’s first multi-agency emergency services training facility, setting a local and global benchmark for the industry.
The new $109 million Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC) is now open in Craigieburn in Melbourne's north and is modelled after an urban environment.
The facility is designed to simulate real-life situations that emergency services might face, from a burning car in an underground car park to a burnt and smoked out building.
Premier Denis Napthine officially opened VEMTC last month in conjunction with Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells, Minister for Major Projects, Ports and Manufacturing David Hodgett, and Metropolitan Fire Brigade president Neil Comrie and CEO Jim Higgins.
Architecture firm Woods Bagot says the 10-hectare training facility provides access to realistic firefighting and emergency training scenarios, including road, rail, tunnel and marine fires as well as urban search and rescue.
According to the firm's project description, the facility includes a seven-storey prop which serves as a controlled training environment complete with a car park. It houses emergency training for high-angle and aerial rescue.
Inside the building are various fires and smoke spread situations that a firefighter might encounter in a multi-storey building situation.
"It has different themed floors fitted out to simulate an atrium space/ground floor lobby, a cafe, prison cells, commercial office, hotel rooms, cinema, supermarket, nightclub, plant rooms and high rise apartments with balconies," the firm said.
Woods Bagot design leader Harry Charalambous said it was crucial to include as many themed props as possible to simulate a wide array of potential simulations, all while remaining within budget.
"Each prop had to offer more than one or two simulations or scenarios," he said. "This was ultimately achieved by creating a unique facility with HAAGEN’s global experience of fire training engineering and the skills and practical knowledge of MFB’s senior trainers and project Commanders Peter Thomas and Graeme Gant with their future training foresight.”
The facility includes other urban and suburban props found in the built environment, including a retail strip shopping front area, a multipurpose building along with a locally themed transport hub offering roads, highways, an underground tunnel and public transport stops. Other scenarios include a ship and port/docking area, petrochemical plant, factory and laboratory.
Napthine described the facility as a place that provides access to promote "interoperability allowing each agency to grow and adapt to future demands."
"The $109 million facility also supports the Victorian Government's biggest reforms to emergency management in 30 years by providing an 'all hazards, all agencies' approach to emergency management," he said.
The benchmark VEMTC will cater to both volunteer and emergency career professionals across the MFB, CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Victorian State Emergency Services (SES) and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI).
The facility also has room for expansion as it sits on an 18.6-hectare site.
The project has been recognised as a world-first due to its accurate and extensive replication of the urban and suburban environment and its ability to house various emergency departments.
The VEMTC aligns with the growing trend of developing knowledge hubs or clusters on the outskirts of cities. These buildings and facilities are designed to bring aligning professionals under one roof whilst encouraging collaboration and uniformed learning.