A first of its kind regional training facility will be launched at Earlswood, Briton Ferry, on Thursday 8 November 2007. The Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Dr Brian Gibbons AM, will officially launch the new facility for the all Wales collaborative Urban Search and Rescue Team.

The event will incorporate a USAR demonstration exercise and awareness display of all capabilities along with the Wales New Dimension National Fleet; these will be crewed by personnel from all three Welsh Fire and Rescue Services. The event will enable the new Minister to see at first hand the partnership approach between Fire and rescue Services in Wales and to see exactly how WAG funding has been used to support the Wales ND Programme.

Commenting prior to the launch Dr Brian Gibbons commented:

“The Fire and Rescue services are called upon to tackle more than just fires and road incidents. This single all Wales training centre will play a key role providing a specialist safe environment to learn the urban search and rescue skills they need.

“I see effective collaboration as key to the continued development of public services across Wales. This is a fine example of combining talents and resources.

“I am pleased therefore to celebrate the success of this project which I am sure will deliver excellent, modern facilities to provide our firefighters with the high quality training and preparation they deserve.”

Chief Fire Officer Douglas Mackay for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service added:

“This is an excellent example of effective collaboration between the Welsh Assembly Government and all three Fire and Rescue Service in Wales. The purpose built building will enable team members to practice and maintain a variety of associated techniques and skills to a recognised national standard”.

The new facility will offer the team opportunities to deal with a range of realistic scenarios in which team members can develop skills in the following areas:

Technical Search – includes the use of specialist camera and listening equipment to locate casualties. Also utilised within this stage is the use of trained specialist search and rescue dogs.

Breaking and Breaching – requires the use of cutting and coring equipment to cut through concrete and metal wreckage to access casualties.

Loading and Moving- includes the use of specialist moving equipment to remove rubble and debris that may have resulted due to breaking and breaching operations.

Shoring – is the use of shoring equipment or timber to create a structure that can be used to stabilise buildings or trenches to prevent further collapse.

A number of practical demonstrations by team members will take place during the launch.

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