Co Durham centre approved to run helideck firefighting training for oil and gas industry

An emergency response training centre in County Durham has received approval from OPITO – the oil and gas industry’s training body – to run helideck firefighting training courses which prepare offshore workers for the very worst emergencies.

The Bowburn-based centre, which is a joint venture between the UK’s largest energy sector training provider, 3t Training Services and Vital Fire Solutions, the trading arm of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS), opened in 2022 following six-figure investment.

The state-of-the-art centre replicates all the structures found on an offshore installation, including a full-size helideck, and helicopter simulator.

This new OPITO accreditation means the centre is now able to offer all of the emergency response courses required for the oil and gas industry.

Offshore emergency response is a mandatory requirement for offshore installations, with these structures requiring a minimum number of crew members to be trained in secondary roles as emergency firefighters to deal with potential emergencies onsite.

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

Rob Cherrie, Director, CDDFRS said: “I really cannot stress enough how vital this new equipment and the enhanced training it offers will be to people working in the offshore sector – 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 state-of-the-art technology here at our training centre, we are able to give those offshore workers with firefighting responsibilities the skills they need to cope with the worst-case scenarios.”

Emma Howorth, General Manager for England at 3t Training Services, said: “We are delighted to receive our latest OPITO approval and would like to thank everyone for all their hard work in making this happen.

“This centre can now offer courses such as Helideck Emergency Response Team Member (HERTM) and Helideck Response Team Leader (HERTL), which are critically important to offshore safety.

“This is 3t’s third emergency response training facility in the UK and our second in North East England. We are focussed on bringing increased choice and more locations to our clients and this centre delivers just that. It is extremely convenient for the many offshore workers and companies in the Tees Valley and County Durham areas, who can now train much closer to home, as well as perfectly complementing our new Teesside Training Centre in Middlesbrough. Essentially any course you need for offshore emergency response, we can offer it.

“As well as being key to safety, emergency response certificates are highly desirable for employers in the oil and gas sector, and can complement any offshore worker’s CV. This facility provides a valuable resource for the region and will no doubt attract people to the area from much further afield.”

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