A £330million training programme for firemen was criticised yesterday after it emerged that it is cheaper to send them to the U.S.Can’t wait to see what ’Burning Our Money’ makes of this…
Each course at the American centre costs £3,950 and includes up to date instruction on dealing with terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes and fires.How is that possible? Well, the Texas centre is in a competitive market, and actively touts for business, and knows it has to keep its customers happy.
An equivalent scheme, the New Dimensions programme, at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, costs £5,500.
The UK centre on the other hand is a white elephant created to provide work for consultants, architects, Labour-friendly building firms and all the hangers-on and bean counters that ‘support’ the frontline staff. And paid for by us.
But they forgot a crucial point in making sure it’d have to be used:
New Dimensions was launched in 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. It cost £330million and boasts of providing firemen with the best and most modern tuition possible in post-disaster training.So the brigades, being cost conscious and needing to provide value for money, send their firefighters abroad. Who wouldn’t?
Britain's 46 fire brigades are not required to use the Fire Service College and it is estimated that since 2003 they have sent 800 firemen the 5,000 miles to the Disaster City centre in Houston, Texas. The £3,950 price of each course includes transatlantic flights, accommodation, food and tuition.
A scathing 38-page report from the National Audit Office says: 'Based on course fees, accommodation and transport, it was cheaper to send firefighters to Texas than it has been to use the Fire Service College - though the UK has advantages in terms of less time away from duty.'In other words, like all centrally planned ‘answers’, it doesn’t meet the requirements for all the brigades that need to use it. So they find those answers elsewhere…
'The fire and rescue services have three main concerns with the college: high cost of courses, poor accommodation and facilities, and inflexible courses and scheduling.'
Tory communities and local government spokesman Eric Pickles said: 'Something is seriously wrong if we are paying to send our firefighters to Texas, rather than training them here.Well, Eric, I’d say that’s your problem, right there….
'The Fire Service College is a Whitehall agency, so ministers need to explain why the college is not offering better value for money than America.'
A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: 'In the early days of New Dimension the Fire Service College did not have the facility to provide the urban search and rescue training.Well, that was a long winded excuse, wasn’t it…?
'The college has now trained over 7,000 fire and rescue staff in operating the wide range of New Dimension equipment.'
It wasn’t an excuse at all. It was just glossed-over waffle, as the government always does with bad news – pretends it doesn’t hear it at all….