Royal VIP to open fire training centre

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His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent is to officially open Sheffield’s new fire training facility - hailed by bosses as the ‘best in the world’ - when he visits South Yorkshire next week.

The Duke will tour the Realistic Fire Training Building at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s training base in Handsworth, and see firefighters put through their paces in a number of training scenarios.

He will also unveil a plaque to mark the building’s official opening on Wednesday.

The Duke opened the organisation’s previous fire training building in 1998 and his wife, the Duchess of Kent, opened SYFR’s former Wellington Street headquarters in 1988.

The £2 million, three storey facility allows fire chiefs to recreate the conditions crews are likely to encounter in real life incidents.

An artificial smoke generator provides realistic conditions for search and rescue training and a carbonaceous simulation room replicates fire flashovers inside buildings.

A large steel tower rig provides working-at-height training facilities and a large road traffic collision training area allows for up to three separate exercises to be run simultaneously.

Chief fire officer Jamie Courtney said: “The Realistic Fire Training Building is a unique building, both in terms of its state-of-the-art technology and the wide range of training opportunities it offers for our firefighters.

“Ensuring our fire crews receive the highest possible standards of training will always be one of our top priorities and I’m certain you will not find a better firefighter training facility anywhere in the world.”

Construction work on the £2.1 million RFTB began in March 2008 and firefighters began training at the building at the start of 2010.

Many of the rooms are set up to replicate the layout of residential properties.