9 November 2023
Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, joined Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) at the new Learning & Development Centre (LDC) in Cookstown, recently.
With around 8 months to completion, his visit to the 65 acre site was to mark the substantial completion of the Flood Water Rescue Facility and note the significant build progress made to date.
As a Northern Ireland Executive flagship project, LDC Cookstown represents the largest capital build ever undertaken by NIFRS. The facilities at LDC will revolutionise how NIFRS trains and develops its people, to protect everyone in Northern Ireland.
After a presentation of the project’s key milestones and a walk through NIFRS vision – To become a Centre of Excellence for Emergency Service Training – the Permanent Secretary was taken on a guided tour, with particular emphasis on the Flood Water Rescue Facility.
On this facility, Peter May commented:
“The key role played by NIFRS, alongside other partner agencies in responding to recent flood incidents underlines the importance of this new training facility.
“It will be a game changer for training firefighters, giving them the skills they need when dealing with such situations in reality, making a real difference and saving lives.
“I was very impressed by the progress here at the new Learning & Development Centre in Cookstown and commend the teams involved.”
Jay Colville, Chair of NIFRS Board said:
“I would like to thank the Permanent Secretary and Departmental colleagues for their continued support for this visionary facility. Designed as a premier training hub for Firefighters and emergency service personnel, the Flood Water Rescue Facility is a testament to our unwavering commitment in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of people in the face of water-related emergencies.
“Collaboratively, we are creating a safe and effective Fire & Rescue Service capable of responding, not just to today’s challenges, but the challenges we face in the future.”
Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer (ACFRO) Aidan Jennings said:
“We were delighted to welcome the Permanent Secretary on site. The Flood Water Rescue Facility will support both our organisation and the broader emergency response community. It will equip our Firefighters and other emergency service responders with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to respond to water-related emergencies efficiently and effectively.
“The capability and vital nature of an effective coordinated emergency response from a range of multi-agency partners has been evident across Northern Ireland over the past week. The development and introduction of this facility will ensure that we are all prepared with the right skillset to respond.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of such critical training and confident that this state-of-the-art facility will have a positive impact and further enhance the safety of both emergency responders and our community.”
For more information on LDC Cookstown and the Flood Water Rescue Facility, visit: Learning & Development Centre – Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (nifrs.org)
From left to right: NIFRS Board member Jay Colville, project SRO ACFRO Aidan Jennings, LDC Cookstown Project Director Conor McCrory, Peter May Permanent Secretary Department of Health, Damian Gill Felix O’Hare (contractors), NIFRS Board member Cllr Robert Irvine