A grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer was held Saturday morning. Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen cut the ribbon using a hydraulic-extrication rescue tool. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

A grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer was held Saturday morning. Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen cut the ribbon using a hydraulic-extrication rescue tool. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer officially opens

A new facility in Red Deer will provide emergency services workers with a wide variety of training opportunities.

The Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre, located at 4343 78 Street Crescent, officially opened Saturday morning.

Construction of the $4.32 million fire training tower was completed in April of 2022 and was made possible through the Government of Canada’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the City of Red Deer said in a release.

The over 9,000 square foot training tower offers comprehensive training scenarios for crews, including house, basement suite, garage and commercial building fire scenarios, hazardous material emergency response, collapsed structure response, elevator rescue and much more.

“We’re really excited to have this new facility ready and open,” said Ken McMullen, RDES fire chief and acting general manager for development and protective services for the city.

“As first-responders, it is critical that we are prepared to respond to any scenario with skill, knowledge and expertise. Our ability to do so can mean the difference between life and death.”

The centre will be used to train both Red Deer Emergency Services workers, as well as the wider first-responder community in Alberta – the centre can be rented by community fire departments, oil and gas businesses, police forces, and many other organizations that require emergency response training.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said the centre provides “another layer of protection” for the city.

“When we first started looking at this a few years ago – and I obviously want to thank the province and feds for coming on board with us – this is what we envisioned,” said Johnston.

“It’s a very modern facility that not just Red Deer can use, but the surrounding communities. Volunteer firefighters and folks that come in from smaller centres can get some real-life training here in a facility like this.”

The training centre is named after beloved, long-serving RDES employee Ed Howell who championed training amongst his colleagues throughout his career spanning nearly thirty years from 1965 to 1994.

McMullen said Howell was “a true leader who spearheaded training programs” for RDES.

“His legacy of service excellence and safety for first responders will continue to thrive in this new facility,” he said.

“He’s a legend around our services and he’s certainly known as a gentleman who was dedicated to training.

“Ed had a vision of what a training facility should look like … and it was a no-brainer to name this facility in honour of Ed Howell. To have his family here (at the grand opening ceremony) is a treat.”

The former training centre has been located at the same address since 1998. McMullen said these buildings only have a 20-year lifespan.

“The concrete really starts to deteriorate over time with the amount of heat that’s used in these towers,” he said.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston speaks during the grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston speaks during the grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen speaks during the grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen speaks during the grand opening ceremony for the Ed Howell Emergency Services Training Centre in Red Deer Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)