Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) has approved plans to invest in new training facilities and fleet to further strengthen Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s capability to respond to communities across Berkshire.
As part of its 10-year Strategic Asset Investment Framework (SAIF), the Fire Authority has agreed to the refurbishment of the training centre based in Whitley Wood, Reading as well as the replacement of a number of its front line vehicles, with anticipated investment of approximately £6 million.
At this time, RBFA have approved the progression of plans for the refurbishment of the training facility at the existing site, which is based in Whitley Wood, Reading. The Training Centre provides a critical role in the development of operational staff and approval has been given to proceed with developing the detailed plans in line with Service needs and consideration of local residents.
In addition, a total of eight frontline fire engines will be replaced over the next three years, which will be purchased as part of an existing collaborative framework with neighbouring Thames Valley fire and rescue services. This helps to improve cross border working and benefit from the efficiencies of buying together.
Councillor Jeff Brooks, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “This investment is a clear signal that the Fire Authority remains fully committed to maintaining an effective response for the residents of Royal Berkshire.
“An improved training centre and replacement of frontline vehicles will ensure that our firefighters are very well prepared and equipped for their vital roles. I look forward to seeing our plans realised and helping to keep our residents and visitors to the County safe.”
In 2015, a review of the fleet identified that RBFRS had the second oldest fire appliance fleet amongst English fire and rescue services. It also initiated the development of the RBFRS Fleet Strategy, which sets out the medium to long-term replacement profile for all vehicles within RBFRS. This Strategy aims to ensure the whole fleet is effective and flexible to meet aspirations of RBFRS.
Mark Arkwell, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, said: “The progress made since 2015 has been considerable, transforming our frontline appliance fleet into one we can be proud of. We welcome the Fire Authority’s commitment to investing in our response capability for the long-term. Our communities should be confident that they will continue to be well protected in the event of an emergency.”
The additional vehicles builds on the 19 modern frontline fire appliances that have already been delivered to Berkshire, as part of the collaborative Thames Valley approach with Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Services.
In the same period, RBFRS has invested in a new Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP), increased its off-road firefighting and water rescue capabilities and more recently taken delivery of its first hybrid and electric vehicles.
The new fire engines will be built by Emergency One (UK) Ltd on Volvo FL 42R chassis and as before, will include a standardised inventory across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire – making it easier for our firefighters to ensure a swift and effective response when called to emergencies where two Services are in attendance.
In addition to the eight new fire engines, five cars and vans will be replaced over the next year. To find out more about RBFRS’ fleet, please visit our website