It is in Lanarkshire that Scotland’s firefighters hone their abilities. A local drone enthusiast – namely me – decided to film a bird’s-eye view of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service National Training Centre in Cambuslang.
The video captures, in its entirety, the mock town that the training facility uses to simulate various scenarios for firefighters, such as burning buildings and train accidents.
I spoke to a local paper about the footage and told them I’d only had it for a week or so and only recently found out that the local fire station also has a training campus attached. I was really keen on having a look at the place after I found out it had a mock-up town to help train firefighters so I went on a stroll along the Clyde with the aim of getting close enough to have a look from above.
A bit of background
In 2007, the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service appointed a project team leader to develop a new fire training centre. Clydesmill, a former large power station on the south bank of the River Clyde near Westburn, was eventually chosen as the location. A related project was also approved: closing the existing local stations at Cambuslang (built in 1970) and Parkhead (built in 1952) and combining them into a new community station at Clydesmill, which was finished in 2011.
The building’s construction took 77 weeks. The structures were finished in April 2012. The official opening was held in January 2013, just before all eight fire services in Scotland merged in April 2013. The 40-acre property contains an academic building and three hazard zones. There is a simulated town with roads, railroad tracks, and buildings, including a multi-story apartment building.
Sewage tunnels, animal rescue pits and more
Describing what was available at the facility, Premier Construction News said that the zone houses numerous new training facilities, one of which covers a single storey and comprises of numerous structures for the delivery of practical training.
“The venue houses concrete trenches, a sewer complex, wilderness rescue area, an animal rescue pit, silo and confined space training rig. The building also contains showers, storage, eating and drying areas. There is a separate training facility for the urban search and rescue team – USAR – which provides opportunities for tunnelling and shoring training, hot cutting of steel, technical searches, breaking and breaching of concrete and heavy lifting. The facility is able to offer all these training facilities through its flexible design including the provision of removable stairs, collapsed floors, collapsed roofs, removable safety barriers, tunnel complex and simulated collapses within tunnel sections.”
World-class training on our doorstep
When it opened in 2013, the Daily Record reported that The Uaill Training Centre, as it is officially known, “is among the world’s best sites for emergency service workers to practice operating in realistic, challenging environments.”
Councillor Joe Lowe, then Convener of the Strathclyde Fire Board, also praised the facility on its opening:
“Uaill is an unparalleled asset to firefighters and our colleagues in the other emergency services, who can now experience a truly realistic scenario for the most challenging incidents first responders are ever likely to face. I’m delighted to launch this terrific new facility, which is a tremendous asset for the Fire Service. Being able to train firefighters in realistic incidents makes a huge difference when they face the real thing. Uaill will enhance our firefighters’ already excellent skills and help ensure our communities continue to have the protection of a truly world class Fire Service. It is yet another example of the great firefighting heritage we have here in Strathclyde.”
A sustainable future
The fire station at the complex will, according to the SFRS, be the first to use an electric-powered fire appliance. The facility, which is also being expanded to cope with increased demand, is preparing to receive Scotland’s first electric-powered fire appliance.
Station Commander Jim Snedden said:
“The electric fire appliance is the first of its kind for the service and it’s really exciting that Clydesmill gets to be a part of this project. Upon arrival at the station, crews will undergo training with the vehicle to ensure a smooth integration into our operations as we work to protect the communities we serve.”
The service says that the local station being close to the SFRS National Headquarters and Training Centre in Cambuslang and a brand new workshop that’s in development “made Clydesmill the stand-out choice.”
Future-proof fire facility
The facility in Cambuslang is one that could very easily be the envy of fire services of any country in the modern world. It boasts a modern, well-equipped training facility that is being expanded and upgraded to cope with future demand. Not only that, it is leading the way when it comes to building a sustainable future for Scotland’s emergency services.