Helicopters, heights and heroes all played a part in the official opening of Suffolk Fire and Rescue's world class training centre in Wattisham.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has been working closely with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Wattisham Flying Station to create a purpose-built training centre providing the very best facilities for the county's firefighters.

County Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Protection joined Suffolk's Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry and Wattisham Flying Station's Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel Peter Bullen for the official opening of the centre.

The 17-acre site at Wattisham, which is home to the Army's Apache attack helicopters, also boasts classrooms, towers for height training, plus a range of other training scenarios in road traffic collisions, rail incidents and collisions, and a refurbished Army and Air Cadet building which is now used as a shared facility.

The site will be used for joint emergency exercises between Suffolk Fire and Rescue and the RAF's search and rescue unit stationed at Wattisham, plus staff from the police, ambulance service and the Highways Agency.

Guests at the opening watched a RAF Sea King helicopter winching a casualty to safety, a demonstration in the purpose-built 'live fire' zone, firefighters demonstrating breathing apparatus and fire equipment and instructors working from height to lower a casualty to the ground.

The 'live fire' area, which provides the closest possible experience of tackling a real blaze, is one of the most impressive features of the centre, equipping officers to provide an even better emergency service to Suffolk people.

County Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said: "Today provided a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the amazing facilities we now have to help deliver top quality training to our county's firefighters.

"Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is, and always has been, highly regarded by the public and it remains a top priority for us to continue to protect the public along with the firefighters themselves. In these austere times however, it is important for us to deliver major projects like this at a fraction of the cost. We've been able to do exactly this through our positive partnership with the MOD."


Andy Fry, Chief Fire Officer said: "This is an important day for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and the people and communities we serve. We now have world class facilities - giving our firefighters the best possible training opportunities - right here on our doorstep.

"There are three things that I believe go into making a top firefighter: the right personal attributes, the right equipment and the right training. Today marks a very significant improvement to the last of these three ingredients, and I'm delighted by what's been achieved at Wattisham.

"It is important to thank the Suffolk County Councillors who've made it possible for us to invest in this facility during a period when we are facing very serious financial challenges. Whilst our close working partnership with the Ministry of Defence and others has meant we've delivered the project at a fraction of the cost it might otherwise have been, the support of Suffolk County Council has been fundamental in bringing this project to fruition."

Colonel Neale Moss, Wattisham Station Commander said: "The establishment of the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Training Centre at Wattisham has underlined the close ties that exist with Suffolk County Council, fire and other emergency services. It will enable collaborative working, cross pollination of ideas and mutual training benefits for agencies in Suffolk.

"Having professional firefighters on the site maximises the use of an otherwise redundant area, is better for the environment, will help the people of Suffolk and brings something special to Wattisham."


Posted September 27th, 2011 at 1110 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com