Jacksonville is preparing to open its new emergency communications center. The new building will house the police department, the fire department’s training classrooms, 911 dispatch, and a safe room for severe weather.
The FEMA storm shelter has 10 inch thick walls with bars inside up to the ceiling. A cement roof 6 inches thick can withstand an E-F 5 tornado. The whole building is something the City of Jacksonville is very proud of.
The FEMA safe room can shelter 535 people during severe weather and protect the 911 dispatch center from losing communication. Classrooms and conference rooms for fire training help expand education of other agencies to better serve the community.
David Jones with the Jacksonville Fire Department says, "It's no different than a scene. When you get out there you have fire, EMS, and police all working together."
The facility offers a much larger space for the police department with room to grow, and has a K-9 pen with kennels.
Mayor Gary Fletcher says, "The entrance into the police department is much more inviting to the public. The foyer gives the public has quicker access to the department for people who come in with issues."
The police department has locker rooms, a debriefing room, gym, and garage for collecting and analyzing evidence. Cpt. Kenny Boyd says the improvements bring the department to date and into the future. “Everyone wants the latest and greatest tools to work with, so I feel like it will help us on our recruiting."
The two departments say the new building makes it easier to do their jobs and elevates their performance, creating a work environment they're excited and proud of.
Mayor Fletcher says, "When you move into a new building you see nothing but smiles."
The construction of the new emergency communications center cost $6 million. The safe room isn't quite ready yet, so Jacksonville emergency responders want to remind people to sign up for Code Red Alerts to receive text or voice messages about severe weather in the area.
The old police department building will still house the courts.