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New Scottish firefighter training facility planned

03 May 2018

ORKNEY COMMUNITIES are set to benefit from a £1.2m investment, which has delivered a vital firefighter training facility.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has this week unveiled an on-island carbonaceous fire training unit at Kirkwall Airport Fire Station. Delivered in partnership with Highlands & Islands Airport Ltd, the investment will allow crews to train in temperatures up to 600C and share expertise – and follows the introduction of similar specialist units at Stornoway and Sumburgh airports.

The impressive facility was officially opened on Tuesday, May 1 by Chief Officer Alasdair Hay and Chair of the SFRS Board, Kirsty Darwent.

Chief Officer Hay said: “Today’s official opening marks the culmination of a long-term strategic plan to deliver a truly outstanding facility for our firefighters across Orkney.

“They are committed to their communities, responding at a moment’s notice to protect at times of emergency – and we are clearly fully committed to them.

“This significant investment will provide our firefighters with the modern resources and training required to keep standing on that front line and I commend their unwavering dedication.

“Crucially, this training facility will also reduce the requirement for local firefighters to travel off island to undertake training – making the process far smoother for those wishing to join our fantastic Service.”

The new training unit at Kirkwall – which follows last year’s £3m upgrade to Stornoway’s fire station – is the latest stage in a significant Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investment to support retained duty system firefighters (RDS) across Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles.

The Chief Officer, who has more than 30 years’ of firefighting experience, paid tribute to those exceptional individuals across the whole of Scotland who serve and protect.

He added: “I cannot commend the efforts of our retained firefighters enough – they are the life-blood of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and the heart and soul of their communities. 

“Their dedication and selflessness is inspirational – they dedicate their free time to saving the lives of others and deserve the very best.

“It is therefore right and proper that they are supported, trained and equipped to keep their communities safe.

“This new facility represents not only an investment in the development and training of our firefighters – but also a clear commitment to ensuring the safety of Orkney’s communities.”

Annabelle Ewing MSP, Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister, said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to supporting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and other relevant partners to continue to reduce the number of fires and fire related injuries in our communities.

“This successful continued partnership between the SFRS and the Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd is excellent news for communities and firefighters alike.

“It will help to protect and improve local services by delivering modern resources and training without firefighters having to leave the island.”