A brand-new centre to train offshore workers in emergency firefighting is being developed in County Durham thanks to an agreement between the UK’s leading energy trainer, AIS Survivex and Vital Fire Solutions (VFS), the trading arm of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS).  

This exciting joint venture will see a new 20,000 square foot offshore emergency fire training facility being built at the existing fire service Training Centre at Bowburn, incorporating a three-storey mock offshore platform rig with full size heli-deck, helicopter simulator and internal structures to mirror those on an offshore installation.  

The project will be delivered in two phases over the next six months. Phase one will begin late September 2022 and will include delivery of many of the key training courses required for offshore firefighters such as Offshore Emergency Response Team Member (OERTM) and Offshore Emergency Response Team Leader (OERTL), as well as refresher training. All training will be delivered to Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) standards, the skills body for the energy industry, and work is currently underway to upgrade the facilities at the service Training Centre. 

Phase two will see development of a helipad and the introduction of additional courses such as Helideck Emergency Response Team Member (HERTM), Helideck Emergency Response Team Leader (HERTL) and Helideck Operations Initial Training (HOIT). 

The centre is hoping to attract thousands of offshore workers from across the UK and the rest of the world to train each year in offshore emergency response. 


Emma Howorth, General Manager for England at AIS Survivex, said:

“We are delighted to announce this new joint venture with VFS. With many years of specialist expertise in firefighting training, VFS was a natural partner to complement our existing offshore training offer and offer a new location for delegates south of the region. As well as providing an excellent resource for offshore workers, this new offshore firefighting facility will help to enhance the already excellent reputation of the North East as a service provider to the offshore sector.” 


Stuart Errington, Chief Fire Officer, CDDFRS said:

“This is an exciting new venture for both parties and one which will benefit both the offshore sector and the wider North East economy. 

“When you’re offshore, you can’t just dial 999 and expect immediate assistance. Offshore firefighters are more likely than others to face scenarios such as helicopter fires or pressurised oil fires so individuals need to be well-trained and self-sufficient when dealing with these scenarios. 

“Utilising our wealth of experience in firefighting training, teamed with our new realistic simulated offshore environments, we will be well equipped to give offshore workers with firefighting responsibilities the skills they need to cope with the worst-case scenarios.”