Plans for six-storey tower at Oldbury Fire Station to address national "deficiency" in training

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A PIONEERING training centre to simulate blazes in high rise buildings could be built at Oldbury Fire Station and is expected to be in demand by crews from across Europe.

Plans for the facility, which would be the first of its kind in the UK, are in response to a national “deficiency in existing firefighting training.”

Proposals were submitted to Sandwell Council planners this week.

If granted approval an existing single-storey section of the Old Park Lane fire station and a 17-metre drill tower would be demolished to make way for the new structure, which would consist of six metal cabins stacked on top of one another.

Concerns had been raised over smoke distracting drivers on the nearby M5 but a report by Rob Duncan Planning Consultancy notes: “The building is designed to retain smoke within it in order to accurately simulate a real high-rise fire scenrio.

“Once the fire is extinguished the smoke is then released in one controlled release, rather than being a constant source of smoke throughout the burn.”

The report goes on: “The proposed training facility will be unique, giving firefighters the opportunity to train for high rise fire situations.

“No such facility exists anywhere in the UK and this has been identified as a constraint by the fire service.

“It is anticipated the proposed training facility will be used not only by the West Midlands Fire Service, but also by services from around the country and indeed other countries in Eurpoe, with the Netherlands already having expressed an interest in the facility.”

It states the training facility would address a “deficiency in existing firefighting training” as well as boosting the local economy with visiting fire fighters using hotels, restaurants and pubs. The deadline for consultation is February 27.

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