Severn Park benefits from expertise of private sector: a ground-breaking Private Finance Initiative/Public Partnership project has provided Somerset, Avon and Gloucestershire fire and rescue services with some of the best firefighting training provision in the UK following the opening of the new facilities at the Severn Park, Avonmouth.(Training)

The state-of-the-art centre is the result of a project undertaken by the brigades in conjunction with the Hampshire-based support services company VT Group (formerly Vosper Thornycroft), who have considerable experience in providing training solutions and managing demanding PFI schemes.

Following the official opening of Severn Park late last year by the Duke of Edinburgh, VT, in conjunction with brigade personnel, is responsible for operating and maintaining the facility over a 25-year period in a contract worth 60m [pounds sterling].

Severn Park has been purpose designed and built to enhance the fire and rescue based training experience, primarily for fire and rescue personnel. However, the initiative also involves attracting third party users such as other brigades or outside organisations to maximise throughput. To date BP Gas, Avon and Somerset Police and Cardiff Airport are some of the third party customers to have used the facility.

Gloucester's CFO Peter Jones commented: "In common with our colleagues in Avon and Somerset, we could not afford to build a new fire training centre simply for our own staff. Even if the money and land had been available, the facility would have been under utilised and therefore not represent best value to the communities of the county. …

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