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Duke blazes a trail at opening of HQ; CEREMONY: Royal seal of approval for new fire station in the city.

Byline: Nick McCarthy

THE new West Midlands Fire Service HQ received Royal approval yesterday when it was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.

The Duke was shown around the environmental award-winning headquarters in Vauxhall Road, Nechells.

And he declared the site officially open by unveiling a specially commissioned glass sculpture in the reception area.

The Duke was also given a tour of the Safeside education centre.

The site features 16 different risk scenarios based around a realistic street scene, complete with a house, pub, police station, canal and even a fully-stocked shop and a real train.

West Midlands Fire Service was doubly pleased to welcome the Duke because his father performed the official opening of the previous headquarters in Lancaster Circus on December 2, 1935.

The service's new ceremonial unit was on parade and members of the Young Firefighters Association (YFA) formed an honour guard whilst the band of the West Midlands Fire Service played.

Councillor Peter Howard, chairman of the West Midlands authority, said: "It was a great honour for us to have a Royal guest to officially open our new site.

"And we were especially pleased to welcome HRH The Duke of Kent due to the link with his father.

"West Midlands Fire Service is committed to providing the community with the best possible service, and our new headquarters site is a symbol of our ambition and desire for continual improvement.

"We are incredibly proud of Safeside, which is a fantastic new facility for the West Midlands that allows us to cover a wide range of safety messages in an exciting and memorable way." Chief fire officer Vij Randeniya added: "The official opening enables West Midlands Fire Service to continue developing and delivering first class services. The facilities at our new site are designed to provide the best possible support to our front-line firefighters and an exciting educational experience for our communities." Anyone can volunteer as guides to show people around and talk them through the safety messages.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer visitor guide, contact Janet Wilson on 0121 380 6429..


The Duke talks with Pete Drummond, Assistant Divisional Officer at Bickenhill Fire Station. Ladywood Young Firefighters Association put on a displaywatched by the Duke of Kent, Chief Fire Officer Vij Randeniya (centre) and Mick Norton, Fire Safety Instruction Officer.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 30, 2009
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