Centre’s explosive start

Teamwork ... The search and rescue helicopter works with firefighters to winch a caualty to safety from the training facility.
Teamwork ... The search and rescue helicopter works with firefighters to winch a caualty to safety from the training facility.

SMOKE billows across the fields and flames lick out of a metal container as a crowd of people look on.

This is part of a demonstration which took place at the official opening of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s new training facility at Wattisham Flying Station on Wednesday.

The new training site came alive last week as firefighters demonstrated working at heights, working with road traffic collisions and, with the help of Wattisham’s own search and rescue helicopter, winched a casualty to safety.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was keen to show off its new facility, and is proud of its new close working relationship with Wattisham Flying Station – part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, at Colchester.

Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for public protection, said: “This is significant for everyone and for the people of Suffolk.

“We have got this very impressive training facility which will deliver the very best training to our firefighters who protect the public.”

Andy Fry, chief fire officer, said: “This is a really important day. It’s really important for people right across the county and beyond.

“The facilities will enable our firefighters to do an even better job than they do now keeping people across Suffolk safe.”

The training facility means that firefighters can now benefit from “more realistic operational training” using sophisticated equipment and real surroundings, such as donated buses and rail carriages.

Wattisham Flying Station chief of staff Lt Col Peter Bullen said that it was fantastic to be involved with the flagship project, which will see the fire service, search and rescue, military helicopters and police helicopters at the same site.