Center for Excellence could be the top public safety training facility in the state


DEFUNIAK SPRINGS Fla. (WMBB) — Being the best is standard for Northwest Florida State College opening a new facility to continue their mantra.

Officials with the college partnered with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office to create a state-of-the-art training facility for first responders and students.

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“We are developing programs that will save lives here,” said Shane Abbott the NWFSC Vice-Chair.

NWFSC and the WCSO celebrated the grand opening of their new training public safety training facility Thursday.

“There is a strong possibility that in my lifetime and your lifetime, the graduates from this school are going to get a phone call, and respond to a call that will either protect my security or save my life,” said Abbott.

College officials said current certification pass rates, exceed Florida state averages.

 “That will continue to elevate the county as a great place to live,” said NWFSC President Devin Stevenson.

Not only will the NWFSC be using the training facility, but so will the WCSO.

“Training capable competent professional individuals to a high standard and at the same time lending a helping hand and opportunity to people at the lowest end of the socio-economic strata,” said Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson.

District Three County Commissioner Mike Barker said he sees the importance as he used to work for the WCSO.

“And we deserve to have our best, our citizens deserve it and the visitors that come here, deserve to have the best protection that they can possibly get,” said Barker.

In the Center for Excellence, there are multiple levels and burn rooms to help educate students and real-life experiences.

“This is a more realistic house layout, we can do different designs and have a stairwell that they could go up,” said Walton County Fire Rescue District Chief Chris Brown. “And here is an opening where they can practice ventilation.”

Training opportunities now offered at the DeFuniak Springs location are not available in the original fire tower located at the Niceville campus.

Sheriff Adkinson said with a facility just like this, it’s not just top-notch for the panhandle or the state of Florida but hopefully regionally.

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