OFM - Fire Service Messenger Article - Hamilton Training

Hamilton focuses on training with new multi-agency facility

There’s a new and unique municipal emergency services training facility in Hamilton. Home to fire, police and EMS, the multi-agency training academy has the capacity to provide first responders with a variety of training simulations in a setting that enhances public safety partnerships.

“The multi-agency facility provides us with more opportunities to build relationships with our partners,” said Director of Fire Operations/Deputy Chief David Cunliffe. “It really helps us to break down the barriers and recognize what each agency deals with and how it fits into working better together.”

The facility consists of the following:

  1. A three-storey multi-agency building which houses the administration offices for the fire and EMS departments; the fire department’s emergency communications centre; the city’s emergency operations centre; an EMS training area; and police professional standards office and recruit training classrooms
  2. A working fire station at the entrance to the grounds;
  3. Propane-fuelled props for firefighter training;
  4. Four-storey burn building and two and half storey burn house; and,
  5. A large indoor training facility that hosts a four-storey apartment building and a two-storey house in addition to locker rooms, a SCBA compressor room, kitchen/common room, classrooms, apparatus storage with in-floor exhaust extraction and traditional firefighter poles which allows firefighters to quickly slide to the apparatus floor from the second floor. This building also contains a police ‘use of force’ training facility as a well as an indoor firing range.

Each of these components has a variety of features that can be used for different types of emergency simulations. The emergency operations centre located in the multi-agency building contains facilities and technologies similar to the ones at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.

One of the most interesting parts of a visit to the complex was watching a 75 foot aerial ladder truck extend its ladder to assist with a rescue simulation from the apartment building. The building’s ceiling is 80 feet high.

The indoor training facility also contains an SCBA and respirator fit testing area, and search and rescue maze. In addition, firefighters can be challenged in simulated apartment units with a moveable wall system, theatrical effects and smoke. The facility is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.


After 30 years of using the training centre in existence, municipal decision-makers in Hamilton were forced to make some tough decisions. In its day, the burn house and classroom were state of the art. There was an above ground rail car, gas pits, gas tree and a streetscape. However, environmental standards changed and it became evident that it was time to replace the facility.

In 2006, Hamilton Fire came to municipal council and made a capital funding request. However, it proved difficult to get approval for the funding request given the financial state of the city. In 2009, the city took advantage of the federal/provincial capital infrastructure program. The fire service partnered with the police and EMS departments and developed a three-way partnership which placed a strong focus on integration. They developed a business plan that was sent to all levels of government highlighting the need for a new multi-agency facility. The proposal was successful. The City of Hamilton’s entire portion of the funding came from the portion of development charges covering fire protection services. None of the cost was applied to the municipal tax levy. The facility opened in March 2011.

multi-agency training facility

Outside the training facility, balconies and windows provide areas for fire service personnel to train for aerial rescues.

burn building and burn house

A picture of the four storey burn building and the two and half storey burn house.

aerial truck and ladder

A demonstration of how the 75 foot aerial truck can extend its ladder in the large indoor training facility.

indoor training facility

A picture of the large indoor training facility that houses a four-storey apartment building and two-storey house in addition to locker rooms, SCBA compressor room, kitchen/common room, apparatus storage with floor exhausting and slide poles from the second floor.