A ghost town in the UK will be used by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to give its crews the best training possible. The 4,410-acre ex-Ministry of Defence (MoD) site in Bordon will be the area’s town centre and a housing development once work is completed.
The site contains 95 building scheduled for demolition but in the meantime, firefighters will be able to practise live burns, rescue operations and disaster scenarios
In the meantime the HFRS Academy will use Prince Philip Barracks as a training venue that fire service bosses say will allow exercises on a scale never before possible in the county.
The site – which is the size of more than 2,000 football pitches – contains 95 buildings scheduled for demolition, which will give firefighters the chance to practise live burns, rescue operations and disaster scenarios. They will also be able to trial new concepts and develop pioneering procedures.
The buildings will be used for training involving wall-piercing Ultra High Pressure Lances, new approaches and tactical ventilation.
A base on the site has been leased by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for five years in agreement with Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration Company that they can use the other buildings depending on the redevelopment schedule.
Academy Station Manager Tim Pringle said: “I walk around this site and words fail me. The uniqueness of it – it is a mini-town. “Usually you have constraints on what scenarios you can run and how you can run them. Here you just walk around and see endless possibilities.
“I have a big smile on my face – it is every fire service trainer’s dream.”
While many firefighters will use the facility through programmes run by the Academy it will also be available to crews to arrange team training. Assistant Chief Officer Andy Bowers said: “In the ever changing role of the fire and rescue service it is absolutely essential that we give our staff the best and most realistic training. This site will give us the chance to train in a way that was never before possible.
The potential for all types of fire service-related training at the site is immense
“It will be absolutely invaluable in allowing us to hold the most realistic training scenarios and test out ground-breaking techniques.
“This will improve safety for the community and firefighters and improve operational effectiveness as we continue to strive to be the best service in the country.
“Firefighters want to train for every possible scenario so for us this is utopia, a site that contains virtually every conceivable building and training venue that will allow us to test our personnel, tactics and equipment – what is practised and learnt on this site will save lives."
A Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration Company spokesman commented: “We are delighted Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has chosen Prince Philip Barracks as the location for training staff in the vital skills they need to serve our local community.
“While the long-term regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon takes place, it is important that the site is put to good use."