The first of two new multi-million-pound training centres for London’s firefighters, which were designed and developed by their training partner, Babcock, was officially opened by Mayor Boris Johnson on Monday 9 June.
The Emergency Services Training Centre at Beckton, and a second venue due to open later this year at Park Royal, mark the biggest modernisation of firefighter training in the capital for over a century.
At 3200 square metres, the indoor, 24 hour, all-weather Beckton site in East London houses centres of excellence for urban search and rescue (USAR) and incident command training, a ‘firehouse’ for real fire training and classroom facilities.
Guests, including the Mayor, were able to experience all areas of the training site and watch trainers carry out demonstrations of its capability. These included a visit to the Urban Search and Rescue training rig where there was a display of a line rescue, a stop at the Incident Command Training Suite to experience fully immersive training in command and control and finally a visit to the indoor, carbon neutral, fire house.
Mayor Boris Johnson, Commissioner Ron Dobson, Chairman for the LFEPA James Cleverly accompanied by Director of Fire and Rescue Training, Steve Smith, Operational Training Manager, Mark Hynes and Trainer Ada Dutson got geared up and went into the fire house. Here they were able to experience real life conditions faced by firefighters including flashovers and fire behavior.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said, “This gold standard facility will help London Fire Brigade to deliver a world class service to Londoners. It is part of a multi-million pound modernisation programme to ensure the service and its staff are equipped with the very best kit to respond to the challenges of a growing 21st Century city.”
These world class, environmentally-friendly venues, are provided by London Fire Brigade’s training partner Babcock and replace the brigade’s Southwark Training Centre, which has been training firefighters since 1878 and no-longer fulfils the requirements of a modern fire and rescue service.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said, “I believe that London Fire Brigade is the best fire and rescue service in the world and we now have first class training facilities to match. The centres of excellence provided by Babcock radically improve the quality of facilities that are available to us, providing our firefighters and support staff with state-of-the-art, realistic, safe learning environments to hone their skills across the wide-range of disciplines that are required by the modern fire and rescue service.”
The USAR rig, which includes mock-ups of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings, a crane and jib and areas for hot cutting, line rescue and chain saw operations provide firefighters with a realistic training environment to practice rescue skills used in major incidents involving buildings and transport. The zero emission firehouse is carbon neutral and allows crews to train in a wide variety of different real fire conditions, while the incident command training suite uses floor to ceiling screens and simulation gaming-style interactive software to test incident command and decision making skills in a range of different scenarios.
Gordon Reynolds, Babcock Director of Training, said, “Babcock is proud to be working in partnership with the London Fire Brigade. We have used expertise from across Babcock, the London Fire Brigade and internationally to develop facilities which are in line with the immediate training needs of the brigade and flexible enough to accommodate future training requirements, including multi-agency training. Most importantly we are committed to providing world class training to support the brigade in keeping London safe.”