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Ground Breaking Ceremony for S.B. Regional Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Center

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Congressman Jerry Lewis will be the keynote speaker for the groundbreaking ceremony of the San Bernardino Regional Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Training Center at the San Bernardino International Airport (formerly Norton Air Force Base) Friday, May 28, 11 a.m.

During the past two years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved two grants totalling more than $8 million to construct the new fire fighting training center in San Bernardino. The center, which has been in the planning stages for nearly 10 years, will be used for training firefighting personnel nationwide in the proper tactics for fighting aircraft fires and proper rescue techniques for such emergencies.

"San Bernardino International Airport is the perfect location for a new world-class training facility that will ensure firefighters are ready to take on the unique problems of an aviation fire," said Lewis, who represents the airport and helped secure federal grants for the project. "I am proud to work with the San Bernardino Community College District and the city and county on this fabulous project, and I have no doubt it will improve safety at airports throughout California and the West."

The Joint Powers Authority (JPA), comprised of the San Bernardino Community College District, Crafton Hills College, the County of San Bernardino Fire Department, and the City of San Bernardino Fire Department, applied for the initial funding from FAA to construct the fire fighting facility.

With the cooperation and support of the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA), the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, Lewis and the late Congressman George Brown, the training site has become a reality.

"Completion of this project will be another step toward turning our closed Air Force Base into a hub of economic and educational activity for the whole Inland Empire - the first of many such top-flight facilities I believe will be located here," Lewis said. "It has come about because of the strong cooperation between the city, county and college district, who have shown that working together can make San Bernardino County a leader in the region."

Crafton Hills College, working jointly with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, will oversee the educational component of the program.

"We're very happy to see the fruition of many years of hard work by the Joint Powers Authority," said CHC President and JPA Chairperson Gloria Macias Harrison. "The facility will be a first class training facility that will service the Southwest and the nation."

The center will be located on 20 acres at the former Norton Air Force Base, a location with easy access for firefighters throughout the region. In addition to an administration building with classrooms, the center will utilize a state of the art computerized live propane simulator. Propane fuel will be utilized for fires so there will be no environmental hazards.

The live simulator, approved by the FAA, has two major props -- a Fuel Spill Burn Area (FSBA) and a Specialized Aircraft Firefighting Trainer (SAFT) Artificial intelligent (AI) computer programming will control the 125 foot diameter fuel spill simulator. The computer senses when the trainee, using proper fire suppression techniques, defeats the fire, and it slowly reduces the flame to extinction.

The SAFT simulator, a 737 sized mock-up, provides students the experience of interior fire attack training. The simulation represents typical emergency situations that a firefighter may encounter in the event of an aircraft fire emergency.

Included with the center will be two special firefighting vehicles In addition to Lewis, others speaking at the event include San Bernardino Mayor Judith Valles, San Bernardino County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, Director of the Airport Western Pacific Region, Mr. William C. Withycombe, SBCCD Chancellor Dr. Don Averill, San Bernardino County Board Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, SBCCD Board of Trustees President Mary Sampson, Assistant to the SBCCD Chancellor Frank Reyes, and CHC President and JPA Chairperson Gloria Macias Harrison.

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