Construction on the Integrated Emergency Services Complex at Northern College is well underway.

The $20-million project for emergency service classes and services is being built with a ramped up and strict deadline. Project Manager Fred Trembinski says with a project this size, it would normally take about 18 months to build, but crews have been working to get it open by September 1st, just about 12 months after the ground breaking.

Trembinski says with the timeline of this project, crews don’t have a moment to lose. Crews are currently pouring cement and getting ready to install the drywall.

Northern College says everything has been on budget with one surprise in the building process. President Fred Gibbons says there isn’t a sufficient water flow to the building meaning if it was engulfed in flames, there would be some challenges with the pumper truck running dry before being able to save the building. Gibbons says they are looking at some options that all fall within the contingency for the project, with one being a dry hydrant system pulling water from the lake behind the school in the case of an emergency.

Gibbons says the $20-million dollar budget is bigger than the last discussed number of $11-million because this number now includes the soft costs for the project including furnishings, video conferencing and simulators. He says all levels of government have helped fund this facility. Provincial and federal of government have each given $5.5-million, the City of Timmins has sent over $2-million and the school has also received $1.5-million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. Gibbons adds that the college has also seen a growth in international students, so there is extra revenue coming in from that. He says that the building will be fully paid for when it is officially turned over the the college, with no mortgage whatsoever.

Northern says the inside of the building will have fully-functioning jail cells, fingerprint rooms, courthouse and a simulation unit worth $1-million dollars that Homeland Security uses for training. Gibbons adds that there will also be scenario labs like a functioning apartment that police, fire and paramedic students will be using to practice different scenarios with a platform for instructors to watch. He says the school is hoping these features will make Northern’s program stand-out among the many others in the province.

He says right now there are about 85 students in the emergency services programs, and the goal is to increase that number to 125 by 2020.

There will also be multiple community services using the building. The East wing is where the Whitney Fire Hall will be moved to, along with the Cochrane District EMS and a Health Sciences North Base Hospital. This wing will have areas to store all the agencies’ gear, drive-thru garage bays, meeting halls, training rooms and offices.

Gibbons says right now the goal is to finish the academic wing by late August so it can be opened for classes on September 1st. He says the east wing should be finished by late October.