The only full-scale training facility west of Texas that can equip first responders and industrial workers with the skills needed to protect and secure the U.S. transportation industry on both land and sea enjoyed its official ribbon-cutting in Richmond on Wednesday.
The brand new California State University Maritime Academy, which will help train students and professionals on responses to security and safety threats, operates on a 5-acre plot of land at 756 Gertrude Ave. that was donated by Chevron Richmond.
Chevron also provided funding to leverage a federal port security grant that helped build the facility, said Dr. Jim Burns, dean of extension services at Cal Maritime.
The center will train first responders from local, state and U.S. military agencies on how best to respond to fires on ships and rail cars, HAZMAT situations and other emergencies. Along with marine and industrial firefighting and safety training, certification courses will be offered in small arms and maritime security along with instruction in small boat operations.
Cal Maritime undergraduates will also be trained at the center.
“We are going to use this facility to enhance safety and security of mariners at sea,” said Vice Admiral Charles Michel of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The props that will be used to train first responders are state-of-the-art. Currently, a life-size ship has been installed as a prop at the facility to allow firefighters to learn how to tackle fires and other emergencies that may occur at sea:
“This is a truly amazing place,” said Capt. Greg Stump, USCG regional commander.
The training center will also be a resource for West County’s emergency responders. Battalion Chief Marcus Rayon with the Richmond Fire Department said the facility will save local agencies time and money from having to travel to Texas to fulfill gaps in their training.
Rayon was included on the committee that met regularly to ensure the training center became a reality.
“There were a lot of obstacles, but we were able as a team to go under, roll over and bust through some of those obstacles,” Rayon said.
Chevron received praised by representatives of multiple agencies for providing the necessary land and funding to make the training center a reality.
“We wouldn’t have [this facility] without them,” Burns said.
Kory Judd, general manager of the Chevron Richmond Refinery, said the company is “proud and humbled” to be a part of the project. He promised Chevron’s initial offerings were the start of a long relationship with the center that will further ensure safety at the refinery and on the ships that carry its products to and from its port.
“I think about the roadways that crisscross the country, and how Chevron helps bring the country together, how those roads bind the nation,” Judd said. “But if you think about the oceans, they really bring the world together. And our business would not be what it is without…those who work, often unheralded, in a space where they are not recognized, a rather lonely service other than the camaraderie which exists on those ships. And they bring products flawlessly and seamlessly into our docks.”
After the ribbon-cutting Wednesday, fire personnel with the Chevron Richmond Fire Department conducted training exercises on the prop ship. Check it out: