£1.4m rescue facility officially opened by Princess Anne

PUBLISHED: 02:01 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:00 10 June 2010

HRH the PRINCESS Royal opened the £1.4 million special operations building at the newly refurbished Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Headquarters. Princess Anne began her visit with a tour and demonstration of the special operations department on the gr

HRH the PRINCESS Royal opened the £1.4 million special operations building at the newly refurbished Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Headquarters.Princess Anne began her visit with a tour and demonstration of the special operations department on the grounds of the headquarters in Clyst St George.Special Operations is part of a Government project called New Dimension, which was set up in 2001 in response to possible terrorist attacks. The Devon base is one of 19 urban search and rescue centres in the UK, trained to operate in a major catastrophe. Colin Rockey, special operations group manager, guided Princess Anne through the concept of the national project and a team of firefighters staged a demonstration of the skills and techniques developed for search and rescue. She was treated to demonstrations by the fire crew hanging off pulleys on trees, wedged in between concrete boxes in the training rig and buried in the simulation collapsed structure. She said: "Congratulations, for all those involved in achieving this. You have set yourself some interesting new targets and I am sure it will work very well."Mr Rockey said: "Princess Anne was very impressed and had done her research because she was quite keen to understand the systems. "We are delighted, we are only one of 19 teams in the country, and I think that is a great accolade for Devon and Somerset."The building was opened in May 2007 and the team has been successfully deployed to major incidents across the country, including the Yorkshire and Gloucestershire floods.The plaque was unveiled by Princess Anne at Somerset House, which offers canteen and refreshment facilities for staff as well as meeting rooms for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority. Councillor Stuart Hughes, chairman of Devon County Council's community safety committee, said: "It is a state-of-the-art facility. Before, the canteen facility was very small but this brings it into the 21st century."l Take a look at the video-cast of Princess Anne and see an interview with the operations manager on the website www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

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