A NEW world class £11 million firefighter training centre will be among the 'best in the country', say fire chiefs.

A ground-breaking ceremony has been held at the former headquarters of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service on Sadler Road in Winsford.

The revolutionary facility was given the green light by Cheshire West and Chester Council in March.

The centre will provide innovative technology and real-life scenarios, ranging from serious motorway collisions to building fires and chemical incidents.

The aim is to ensure that firefighters are highly skilled and equipped to deal with a myriad of lifesaving situations.

Firefighters in Cheshire have to be able to deal with a wide range of incidents as the county has a large number of chemical and industrial risks, four major motorway networks and great swathes of rural areas which present a host of operational hazards and risks.

Knutsford Guardian:

Front, from left, Steve Thomas architect Bradshaw Glass & Hope LLP, assistant chief fire officer Gus O'Rourke, Cllr Bob Rudd chairman Cheshire Fire Authority, Cllr Karen Mundry, Cllr Stef Nelson deputy chairman Cheshire Fire Authority, assistant chief fire officer Alex Waller and Stewart Foreshaw group manager, back, from left, watch manager Lee Cliff, crew manager Darren Hickson, Geoff Howe senior site manager ISG and firefighter Jon Stockley

Assistant chief fire officer Gus O'Rourke said: "This incredible facility will be the envy of fire services across the country and I’m certain that it will further enhance Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s reputation as an innovative, forward-thinking organisation that places huge value in both resident safety and the skill and ability of its firefighters.

"Not only is this a real boon for our firefighters but also for the communities of Cheshire who rely on our firefighters to keep them safe and be there when they need us the most."

Cllr Bob Rudd, chairman of Cheshire Fire Authority joined assistant chief fire officer O'Rourke and representatives from the construction company ISG, who will be constructing the new training centre to cut the first piece of turf.

Cllr Rudd said: “These are exciting times for the service and I am looking forward to seeing the progress as the training centre begins to take shape. This new facility is vital for keeping our firefighters highly skilled using the very best facilities, latest technology and training methods.”

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Neil Walker, ISG framework director, added: “Creating world-class facilities for organisations in the blue light sector is a tangible way that the construction sector can further enhance the operational capabilities and effectiveness of our emergency services.

"We’re immensely proud to be embarking on our fourth project for the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, through the North West Construction Hub, with this strong partnership helping transform the service’s built environment assets and create strong community hubs of learning and technical excellence.”