FIREFIGHTERS will benefit from modern training opportunities following the extension of a key facility.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (RBFRS) Firehouse in Reading officially reopened after a huge investment in the centre.

The Firehouse is one of the service’s key training facilities, offering firefighters the opportunity to train in realistic conditions, including simulating fires in homes.

Councillor Colin Dudley, chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “The Firehouse was identified as part of the Strategic Asset Investment Framework as needing significant investment to enable our firefighters to continue to maintain their high training standards.

"I know that this modern facility reflects the high-quality service that is provided by RBFRS every day.”

A series of upgrades were carried out over the summer, including changes to the control systems and internal layout,

The Firehouse is one of the few in the country that offers both gas and the burning of wooden pallets, providing a balance of specific skills training and realistic scenarios.

Nikki Richards, director of Support Services, added: “The purpose of our people strategy is to enable staff to become the best public servants they can be.

"Critical to this is training, learning and development. The Firehouse is a fantastic facility that will allow operational staff to train in more realistic environments, which ultimately means we are in a better position to serve the people of Royal Berkshire.”

A new gas firefighting simulator has been installed in a mock bedroom and kitchen, enabling firefighters to practice real techniques used to fight fires.

In addition, environmentally friendly and more efficient smoke simulators were installed, allowing training time to be maximised.

Councillor Angus Ross, lead member for Strategic Assets, said: “The critical changes have significantly improved the way in which our firefighters will train.

"The authority is committed to ensuring that fire crews can be best trained to provide the highest quality of service to our communities across Royal Berkshire, which is reflected in the investment of the Firehouse.”