Suffolk Fire service opens Wattisham training centre

Suffolk Fire & Rescue service training at Wattisham
Image caption Wattisham Station provides space for training in road and railway crashes

A new 17-acre training centre for firefighters has been built at an Army Air Corps station in Suffolk.

The centre in Wattisham cost £1m and has been developed by the fire brigade, MoD, Network Rail and other partners.

The training can also incorporate the RAF Search and Rescue helicopter which is based there.

Andy Fry, Suffolk's chief fire officer, said: "We've got a multi-storey live fire training rig - you won't see any better anywhere in the country."

As well as structures that can simulate house fires, the site also includes a stretch of railway line and a double decker bus to train firefighters for crashes.

They are also simulating rescues of people trapped in grain silos by filling one with thousands of miniature plastic balls.

Mr Fry said: "The facilities will allow them to see 'back draft' which is a fire condition which has led to serious injury and death all over the country, so it's really important that firefighters are exposed to those kind of conditions in a training environment.

"There's an awful lot that firefighters can do at the home fire stations in terms of core skills training, but this really does take it to the next level.

"It really is a tremendous example of what you can achieve with what is a fairly small amount of money if you've got good partnership going on."

It is expected that fire services from other parts of the country will be able to use new training centre.

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