On September 11, while the country was in remembrance, Swinerton Builders honored the day by breaking ground on a new $13.4 million facility to train future firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Located on the campus of San Diego Miramar College, the three-building facility will boast a 27,000-sq-ft “minicampus” for firefighting and EMT students and will include classrooms, administration space, a simulated command center, a fire truck bay, a four-story drill tower, a courtyard, and an area for recruit drills and physical fitness training.

Chris Murphy, Swinerton’s project executive, says an interesting challenge is constructing a state-of-the-art facility that the Fire & Emergency Medical Technology program needed for the available budget.

“The bond program budget that was identified for the project was really only enough to build a simple “box” for this facility,” says Murphy. “However, early programming studies with the end-users revealed very diverse teaching and training needs for firefighter and EMT recruits.”

He says to build a “box” would have fallen far short of what was needed, so “our team was able to design a multi-building “minicampus” with unique, separate learning and training areas that could accommodate the diverse curriculum offered. 

“It took all of us to deliver this design: The owner came to the table with some additional bond money; architect gkkworks challenged themselves to do great design work with simple, cost efficient materials; and Swinerton Builders led the team with cost-saving constructability input. The end result is a beautiful, highly-functional collection of spaces for training the minds, bodies, and even spirits of future first-responders.”

Designed to meet LEED Silver certification by Irvine, CA-based architect gkkworks the project will incorporate sustainable elements like natural ventilation, daylighting, and recycled water usage. 

During the September 11 groundbreaking event, the San Diego County Firefighters Pipes and Drums played a touching version of “Amazing Grace” in tribute, while project officials used gleaming shovels and donned fire helmets for a ceremonial turning of the ground.