The latest in our mini-series looking at the life behind the fence at RNAS Culdrose in Helston, one of the largest helicopter bases in Europe.

This week: The man charged with overseeing the smooth running of the base’s fire station.

Meet the team from the fire station at RNAS Culdrose, dedicating their time to ensure the safety of all personnel on base.

Firefighters at Culdrose are on standby 24/7, 365 days a year ready to react to any potential incidents that may occur. Working under the motto “Nostris in Manibus Tuti – Safe in our Hands” their aim is to be on the scene of an incident and creating survivable conditions within three minutes of the incident.

One of the people overseeing the smooth running and efficiency of the fire station is Flight Sergeant Gavin Chard, the fire station manager.

FS Chard served 22 years in the Royal Air Force as a Trade Group 8 firefighter. He was previously based out in The Falkland Islands for four months before taking up the fire station manager role at RNAS Culdrose in September 2016.

He said: “My primary role is to maintain the operational capability of the fire station at all times.

“It has been interesting to see the various roles handlers in the Royal Navy have other than firefighting. In the RAF we have different branches that would fulfil the other roles that the handlers take on.”

FS Chard brought his wealth of firefighting experience down to Culdrose, which has been priceless for the handlers to learn from.

There are currently 39 personnel working out of the fire station, split down into four watches (shifts). Each watch consists of ten people: six working at Culdrose and four additional personnel at Predannack Airfield.

Falmouth Packet:

They have one Major Foam Vehicle (MFV) and two Rapid Intervention Vehicles (RIV) at their disposal to be used in the event of an emergency.

FS Chard said: “The MFV carries 6,825 litres of water and 820 litres of foam. It is capable of mass foam discharge, which would allow us, in theory, to empty the tanks in less than two minutes.”

The RNAS Culdrose fire station work and train alongside Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. This partnership paid off hugely in late summer 2018, where there was a crash on the road just outside the naval base.

Falmouth Packet:

“With us being so close, we were the first responders. When Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service arrived, it was civilian firefighters who we had recently been training with and we all knew. It allows us to work together efficiently and effectively as one team,” said FS Chard.

When the fire station aren’t responding to emergencies they are training for any eventuality; whether that be an aircraft crash, road traffic collision or a fire in the accommodation blocks, they are fully prepared to deal with the task at hand.