No smoke without fire practice

FIREFIGHTERS are missing out on important training after residents complained about smoke being generated. Herts Fire and Rescue Service training centre at Longfield in Hitchin Road, Stevenage, is still used for general training but firefighters can no lo

FIREFIGHTERS are missing out on important training after residents complained about smoke being generated.

Herts Fire and Rescue Service training centre at Longfield in Hitchin Road, Stevenage, is still used for general training but firefighters can no longer practice tackling real fires there.

Following a series of complaints Stevenage Borough Council issued a smoke abatement order.

A spokesman for the council said it had a duty to investigate complaints under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


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A firefighter, who did not want to be named, said he and colleagues were concerned about the training being stopped and comments in last week's Comet by chief fire officer Roy Wilsher.

Following the completion of a report into the Harrow Court fire which claimed the lives of firefighters Michael Miller and Jeff Wornham in 2005, Mr Wilsher said: "We owe it to their memory to ensure that we do everything possible to prevent a similar tragedy."

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The firefighter, who works in North Herts, said: "We need this training. We have already lost two colleagues.

"The reason the training facilities closed was due to a resident complaining about the smoke that drifts over his house from the training centre.

"This has been an ongoing problem for three years which the chief has had plenty of time to sort out and get an alternative ready.

"Yet he makes comments that training should be the most important thing."

He added that twice-yearly refresher training for officers no longer takes place.

A spokesman for Mr Wilsher said: "The service has worked with the county council to try and find a suitable alternative site in the county. This has not been possible because of the same restrictions on smoke."

She added that firefighters still undergo breathing skills training using artificial smoke and the service is still meeting national guidelines on firefighters' training.

The fire service is now looking at longer term solutions such as the possibility of mobile units, a new facility that uses gas burners and cosmetic smoke or partnership arrangements.

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