SFRS and Hial fire service unveil new joint training facility for Western Isles

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The new training centre, which will provide Western Isles fire personnel with facilities similar to those opened earlier this year at Dundee Airport.

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Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) today (24 November 2015) took the covers off its latest investment in the north of Scotland, a new carbonaceous fire training facility for the Western Isles.

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said that the investment in services in the Western Isles is another example of the national service’s commitment to equitable access to resources across Scotland.

The carbonaceous fire training facility at the airport is just part of a £3.5million investment in the Western Isles, with a major refurbishment to Stornoway community fire station due to for completion late next year.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has entered into a partnership with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), whose own fire and rescue personnel will also be able to utilise the training centre there which will allow closer collaborative working with their colleagues at retained stations across the Western Isles.

The new training centre, which will provide Western Isles fire personnel with facilities similar to those opened earlier this year at Dundee Airport, was officially opened today by SFRS Board chairman Pat Watters and SFRS Chief Officer Alasdair Hay.

The training facility will include a dedicated search and rescue section and compartment fire behaviour units. It will also house a welfare de-briefing room/classroom unit with BA maintenance capability and a wood storage facility.

The significance of this investment will be that it will negate the need for retained fire crews to leave the Western Isles for training, which will in turn benefit local employers who will not lose staff for lengthy periods of time due to training commitments.

Stornoway fire station is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016. Works include refurbishment of the existing facility and the inclusion of an extension to accommodate additional training support and office accommodation. 

This is the third such investment in training facilities in the north and following a unit at Dundee and the completion of another in Sumburgh. All these works will be followed by similar investments in training facilities in Kirkwall and Inverness between now and 2018.

SFRS Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “This latest investment is more good news for the north service delivery area.

“These strategically placed training facilities will reduce the need for our staff to travel unnecessarily and present the service with significant savings in the future. We are working with tighter budgets every year and projects such as these demonstrate the service’s commitment, not only to the safety of our firefighters and residents, but also that we are making savings and delivering best value to our communities.

"We hope this new facility persuades members of the public to consider a career as a retained firefighter."

SFRS Board Chairman Pat Watters said: “This investment provides more first class facilities for our staff in the north and is another example of the Board commitment to ensuring equitable access to services across Scotland.”

Chair of the Environment and Protective Services Committee at Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Norman MacLeod, said: “This is very good news for Stornoway and the Western Isles.

“It will support our staff and employers who employ retained firefighters and reduce the impact on their full time jobs when they are required to go for training. We have received tremendous support from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and we look forward now to the completion of the works at Stornoway fire station.”

The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I welcome today’s opening of this first-class training unit for the Western Isles. The SFRS do a vital job in keeping our communities safe and it is essential that a high standard of training facilities are available across Scotland.

“The new training unit and major refurbishment of the Stornoway community fire station signifies significant investment in fire and rescue services in the north of Scotland and in our island communities in particular, ensuring we continue to have a genuinely world-class service across all parts of the country.”

Also in attendance today were SFRS’s Director of People and Organisational Development, Diane Vincent, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer and Head of Service Delivery in the North, Andy Coueslant and James Currie, Stornoway Airport Fire Manager.

Speaking at the launch, Temporary Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Iain Vincent, who has responsibility within Training and Employee Development (TED), said: “A considerable amount of planning over a number of months has been undertaken as part of this partnership initiative, and the contribution of our staff and partners should rightly be recognised as this mutually beneficial arrangement further illustrates the willingness of all parties involved to protect our communities and firefighters.”

George Farquhar, Chief Fire Officer for HIAL, said: “We are pleased to be continuing our partnership with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service which has served us well at Sumburgh and Dundee airports.

“By developing shared training facilities at Stornoway Airport, we not only deliver better value for money but also provide more rounded training for HIAL and SFRS personnel. Working together and sharing best practice allows both teams to gain new skills and enhance their existing capabilities.”

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