Kissimmee training site receives $500,000 in government funds for upgrades

A $500,000 state statutory appropriation that vetoed the governor in 2021 has entered the state budget this year, and now it will fund upgrades to the Training Support Annex. to Kissimmee Public Safety.

State Rep. Kristen Arrington and Sen. Victor Torres were on hand Tuesday morning to present the grant to city leaders and its first responder groups.

The funding will be used to cover or move indoors some outdoor facilities and provide on-site shower facilities for firefighter training, which is essential to stem the higher number of incidents of cancer among firefighters.

“Allowing firefighters to clean up these combustible byproducts immediately after training will be a big help,” said Jeremy Donovan, assistant chief of the Kissimmee Fire Department.

The training complex opened in 2020 with a firing range, defensive tactical lab, training, administration and education space for the Kissimmee Police and Fire Department.

“This is a facility that represents an investment in ensuring our public safety professionals are equipped with the best possible tools and training to keep themselves, residents, business owners and visitors safe,” said Mike Steigerwald, City Manager of Kissimmee. “Our delegation in Tallahassee has done a tremendous job getting us the funding at a time when it’s hard to get anything from Tallahassee.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed about $3 billion in local projects out of a $12 billion 2022-23 budget, Arrington and Torres said — including money to fund a lake hydrilla project Toho and increased safety on the Shingle Creek Trail.

“It amplifies a wonderful message, when we work together and form partnerships with local government and state legislators,” Arrington said. “Because of this, our community can feel safe.”

And Torres, a former New York Police Department officer and detective, comes from a place of experience in this case.

“Training is about keeping people safe, so I’m so glad there was no veto this year,” he said. “I hope this training will help keep schools safe. After Uvalde, I think there needs to be more training and experience to make better school resource officers.

Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said the city’s construction of such a training center and state lawmakers funding its expansion showed “tremendous support.”

“I want to thank them,” he said. This is how we provide professional services and save lives. Looking at other towns of a similar size, facilities like these are almost non-existent.

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