Roads Minister Mike Penning visited Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to watch firefighters take part in a road traffic collision exercise.

The MP for Hemel Hempstead, a former firefighter, was invited to Longfield training centre in Stevenage by Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Hazeldine. The visit came after Peter attended a national summit at the Department for Transport earlier this year where the Minister launched a government strategy to tackle congestion caused by motorway closures and drive down the cost to the economy.

In his visit to Longfield, the Minister watched crews from Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Baldock and Hatfield, supported by staff from the training and development centre, demonstrate how they use state of the art cutting equipment to free casualties from wreckage.

One of the firefighters involved in the demonstration had come straight from a multiple lorry collision which closed a road in London Colney.

Roads Minister Mike Penning said: "Motorway closures in England cost the economy around a staggering £1 billion a year. That's why the government is working closely with emergency services to tackle this unacceptable brake on the country's economic recovery through a new strategy to improve incident clear-up times and get motorways re-opened as quickly as possible.

"I was delighted to be able to visit Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue's training centre to hear more about the service's approach to managing road traffic incidents and see its road traffic collision equipment in action. As a former firefighter I fully appreciate the hard work and professionalism of our fire and rescue services and look forward to working with them and the other emergency services to improve clear-up times following accidents."

The Minister, Home Office, Highways Agency and police, fire and ambulance chiefs committed to a ten point action plan in May which will help ensure that closures take place only when they are absolutely necessary and for the minimum amount of time. This will help keep traffic moving, supporting economic growth for the future prosperity of the country.

 Richard Thake, Hertfordshire's Executive Member for Community Safety, said: "We were delighted to host a visit from the Minister and show him the full range of equipment and techniques our Fire and Rescue Service uses regularly in road traffic collisions. We are proud of the contribution the Service makes to getting traffic moving again after incidents, particularly the work of Peter Hazeldine which has helped to shape this national action plan."


Posted September 20th, 2011 at 1130 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: