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Rare look at work of the International Fire Training Centre which has won a ground-breaking contract
ONE of the largest fire training centres in the world opened its doors to cameras for a rare look behind the scenes today (Tuesday, March 5).
And it emerged The International Fire Training Centre (IFTC), at Durham Tees Valley Airport, near Darlington, has become the first organisation in Europe ever to win the right to train fire fighters at another country’s airports.
IFTC won accreditation from the French Civil Aviation Authority at the end of January and has already won four contracts to train airport firefighters in Montpellier, Brest, Marseille and Strasbourg.
Gary Watson, business operations manager at IFTC, explained his business was competing against a French company, C2FPA, which had previously had a monopoly.
It was hoped the new business opportunity would bring in about one million Euros (about £859,700) a year. Three new staff would be recruited initially and more jobs are planned.
Mr Watson explained that ITFC, part of the massive Serco company, had expanded all its international business.
He said: “We have recruited a team of sales and marketing specialists as well as investing in new equipment.
"The result has been the best year in our trading history for export sales which is great for the team here and for the regional economy.”
During the open day it also emerged that the IFTC, which has had clients in recent months from Libya, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Nigeria and Hong Kong, is to offer a degree course in Fire and Rescue (Aviation) at Wolverhampton University.
Journalists were allowed to witness and take part in training at the 20-acre training site, thought to be the biggest in the world with the possible exception of the USA.
Polish and German fire crews took part in separate training exercises earlier today on the ‘fireground’ including dealing with the firescreen, a wall of intense fire and heat, fires on a replica of a huge 747-style large-scale aircraft.
It was explained that 96 per cent of materials used for the fire training, including about 30,000 litres of water every day, are recycled.
Water and a protein-based foam are treated through a complex system involving reed beds.