London Fire Brigade

Fire Authority agrees biggest changes to firefighter training for 130 years

24 November 2011

Members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority have today agreed proposals that will see the biggest modernisation of firefighter training in over a century.

At a meeting of the Authority today, members agreed to plans that will see all training for fire brigade staff in London outsourced to a private training provider, Babcock Training Limited. According to a report on the proposals put to the Authority, this will radically improve training facilities, increase the amount of time available for firefighter training and save the Brigade an estimated £66m over the next 25 years.

The recommendations come after a thorough 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 officers recommended that an external training provider would offer the highest quality training at the best cost.

Babcock Training Limited already provides training facilities to four fire and rescue services, including Devon & Somerset, Avon, Gloucester and South Wales. It also provides training, including fire training, to the Royal Navy. The outsourcing proposals will see the introduction of two new dedicated training centres alongside upgrades to 10 regional training centres and all fire stations.

London’s firefighters will continue to receive the best possible training and the highest safety standards will be maintained. A number of existing Brigade staff will be seconded to work for Babcock Training Limited and courses will be designed in close consultation with the Brigade.

The decision to outsource comes after a report in 2008 said that existing firefighter training facilities were no longer suitable - the Brigade has been training firefighters at its current site in Southwark since 1878.

Cllr Brian Coleman, Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said:

“This is a win-win situation for Londoners. Outsourcing our training means London and its firefighters will benefit from better facilities at a lower cost. The capital has one of the best fire and rescue services in the world and now we will have the training facilities to match.

“At a time when the entire public sector is having to look carefully at what it spends, these plans will save an estimated £66m. This contract will provide London with the first class firefighter training facilities necessary to meet the demands of a modern fire and rescue service.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Following a competitive tender process, officers at the London Fire Brigade recommended that the provision of its training be outsourced, a proposal which was today agreed to by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

Under the proposals, the contract to provide training to the LFB will be awarded to Babcock Training Limited and will begin in April 2012.

The outsourcing proposals will see the introduction of two new dedicated training centres alongside upgrades to 10 regional training centres and all fire stations. This will see more training delivered at fire stations, cutting the time firefighters spend travelling across London. It will also mean more training can take place at night and firefighters will get more realistic ‘real fire’ training to simulate the extreme conditions they face in real blazes.

Most of the London Fire Brigade’s training currently takes place at its site in Southwark and the site is outdated. This means vast amounts of potential training time is lost as firefighters from across the capital travel to a single 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.