MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Tucked behind the 6th Security Forces Squadron’s combat arms training and maintenance building, an abandoned brick warehouse sits ominously.
For the defenders, it’s a 5,000 square-foot, two-story building hosting the perfect training environment, equipped with two heavy metal doors meant for breaching, multiple windows meant for breaking and a floorplan that can change on a whim.
“This building is a blessing,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Gonzalez, an emergency services team (EST) member assigned to the 6th SFS. “Previously, we used an old building on base to conduct training, but when you’ve trained there once, the element of surprise is gone.
The “shooter house,” as it’s come to be known, provides a means for the EST and SFS flight members to safely train on active shooters, hostage rescue and other high-risk scenarios.
Since its doors were first breached on June 1, 2018, the 6th SFS’s EST and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s SWAT team has utilized the simulation house for training.
“While our EST and flight members in the 6th SFS will use it for combat readiness, the house is also open to the FBI and Hillsborough and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office SWAT teams to conduct training,” said Jason Atkinson, the officer in charge of EST and chief of flight operations with the 6th SFS. “It’s an invaluable asset to help MacDill’s defenders, and our community partners hone their skills with realistic training.”
Atkinson explained that so far, the house hosts a training session at least once a week by the 6 SFS or other organizations.
“Having outside organizations host their training in our house is a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and better our overall readiness to any threat,” said Atkinson. “Training and preparation is key for our line of work.”
Moving forward, the 6th SFS’s Airmen will use the simulation house to bolster their ability to Defend, Deter and Defeat.