Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (RBFRS’) Firehouse has officially re-opened following Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s investment.
To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held on Friday, 16 November, where Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, and Councillor Angus Ross, Lead Member for Strategic Assets, officially opened the Firehouse after an extensive improvement programme.
The Firehouse is one of the Service’s key training facilities in Berkshire, offering firefighters the opportunity to train in as realistic conditions as possible, including simulating fires in houses and commercial buildings.
Over the summer, it has undergone work to re-configure the layout providing a contemporary facility for firefighters’ training. The work included an upgrade of the control systems – enhancing the safety and monitoring of training. Alongside this, the internal layout was reconfigured which included opening the loft space to fully utilise the building.
Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Colin Dudley, said: “The Firehouse was identified as part of the Strategic Asset Investment Framework as needing significant investment to enable our firefighters to continue to maintain their high training standards. I know that this modern facility reflects the high-quality service that is provided by Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service every day.”
The Firehouse is one of the few in the country that offers both gas and carbonaceous burning – which involves burning wooden pallets – providing a balance of specific skills training and realistic scenarios that firefighters encounter as part of their day-to-day role.
Director of Support Services, Nikki Richards, commented: “The purpose of our People Strategy is to enable staff to become the best public servants they can be. Critical to this is training, learning and development. The Firehouse is a fantastic facility that will allow operational staff to train in more realistic environments, which ultimately means we are in a better position to serve the people of Royal Berkshire.”
A new gas firefighting simulator has been installed in a mock bedroom and kitchen, enabling firefighters to practice real techniques used to fight fires. In addition, environmentally friendly and more efficient smoke simulators were installed, therefore training time can be maximised.
Lead Member for Strategic Assets, Councillor Angus Ross, added: “The critical changes have significantly improved the way in which our firefighters will train. The Authority is committed to ensuring that fire crews can be best trained to provide the highest quality of service to our communities across Royal Berkshire which is reflected in the investment of the Firehouse.”