London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs reveal proposals for biggest changes to firefighter training for 130 years

07 November 2011

Fire chiefs at the London Fire Brigade have today revealed recommendations  that would lead to the biggest changes to firefighter training for over a century.

In a report to be discussed by a committee of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority next week, Brigade chiefs recommend that all firefighter training is outsourced to a private training provider. According to the report, this will radically improve firefighter training facilities, increase the amount of time available for firefighter training and save the Brigade millions of pounds over the next 25 years.

The recommendations come after a lengthy process during which the Brigade considered carefully the possibility of making a major investment to provide the new training facilities itself. However, following close analysis, Brigade chiefs have recommended that an external training provider would offer the highest quality training at the best cost.

The decision to look at how firefighters in London are trained came after a report in 2008 which said that existing facilities were no longer suitable and could not meet the growing demand. The Brigade has been training firefighters at its current site in Southwark since 1878. However, this means that vast amounts of potential training time is lost as firefighters from across the capital travel to the site and, because it is in a residential area, training cannot take place at night times. The site is also too small for some equipment and unable to be used for many of the modern training techniques firefighters need, like flooding and collapsed building rescue skills.

Under the outsourcing proposals, new training centres will free up more time for firefighters to spend on training rather than travelling and mean that training can be carried out at night time, rather than just during the day. The new facilities will also mean firefighters get more essential ‘real fire’ training, which simulates the extreme conditions firefighters face in a real blaze.

Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Ron Dobson, said:

“These changes to how our staff are trained would mean London’s firefighters learning vital lifesaving skills in the best facilities in the world. Londoners are already served by a first class fire and rescue service and new training centres would ensure this continues to be the case for years to come.

“At a time when the entire public sector is having to look carefully at what it spends, these proposals will save millions of pounds while drastically increasing the amount of time available for firefighters to learn and practice drills.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

- Following a competitive tender process, officers at the London Fire Brigade will recommend that the provision of its training is outsourced.

- The recommendation will be discussed at a meeting of the Finance and Personnel Committee on 17th November and at a meeting of the full London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority on 24th November.  If the decision is taken to outsource, the successful bidder will be announced as soon as possible after the meeting of the full Authority.

- Under the proposals, the contract to provide training to the LFB would begin in April 2012 if agreed by the Authority.