Rochester Fire Station state-of-the-art Road Safety Experience opens

Contributed by editor on Jun 18, 2016 - 10:53 AM

By Susan Carey

Nick Chard, Chairman of the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (KMFRA), has officially opened Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) new state-of-the-art, road safety education centre.



... Over 177 car occupants aged 16-24 have been killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads in the last three years .....

Known as the Road Safety Experience (RSE) and Rochester fire station it was opened on Thursday, 16 June at 1pm with pupils from Gad’s Hill school visiting the new centre.

The RSE is the first purpose built, facility of its kind in the UK. It uses powerful stories, exciting interactive experiences and information from experienced road safety experts. It aims to help young people learn from the experience of others, improve their safety and give them the skills they need to make better informed decisions in all driver and passenger situations. The centre will be operated by staff from KFRS as well as other agencies including Kent Police and the Highways England.


The guests at the fire station opening  Photo: Susan Carey

Mr Chard said: "Over 177 car occupants aged 16-24 have been killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads in the last three years. Providing first class road safety education is vital if we are to keep our young people safe, influence their attitudes and behaviours and help them become responsible drivers and passengers.1

“We are delighted to have been able to work with partners including Kent Police, Kent County Council, Medway Council and the Highways England to bring this truly innovative experience to the young people in our county.”

Susan Carey with one of the Rochester fire engines

The new centre will provide supervised education visits for up to 95 young people a day. It is free to all schools, colleges and groups in Kent and Medway. The RSE is predominantly aimed at 14 to 25 year olds and has been designed for schools to spend a total of four hours on their visit. There is additional educational content that can be used before or after the students come for their experience. The centre features interactive exhibits, live demonstrations and thought provoking displays.

 The roof removed from the vehicle  Photo: Susan Carey

Firefighters, police, ambulance crews and others share their powerful testimonies of road crashes they have had to deal with, as well as their expert advice on how the young people can keep safe.

The RSE is based alongside KFRS’s new Rochester fire station on land at the former park and ride site near Rochester Airport in Marconi Way.

Nick Chard, chairman of the Kent and Medway Fire Authority and Ann Millington, Chief Executive of the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Service  Photo: Susan Carey

Every crash on our roads cause pain and heartache not just for the person hurt or killed but to passengers, families, friends and the emergency services who are called to assist them.

Nick added: “The risks and needs of the county are changing all the time and we need to be ready to respond to that. As well as being a fire station, the building is a base for our North Kent group office and offers a base for ambulances from our partners at South East Coast Ambulance Service.”

Nick Chard and Matthew Scott outside the new building  Photo: Susan Carey

Commenting personally I ( Susan Carey) am a member of the Kent and Medway Fire Authority so was one of the guests for the opening. It was my first visit to the Rochester station and I was impressed. Everything there has been designed to help firefighters do their job from training to keeping fit and to getting to where their needed as quickly as possible which still involves a fireman’s pole.


There are many less fires than there used to be thanks to central heating and the invention of the oven chip and much of the Fire and Rescue Services work is in rescuing people from car crashes and floods. Fire engines carry some amazing kit to help cut people out of their cars so they can be moved to hospital safely and those who attended the opening so some of this equipment in use when they were given a tour of the Road Safety Experience which has been built alongside the new fire station.


The rescue services in action  Photo: Susan Carey


Among the guests were new Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott and KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Matthew Balfour.

Some of the Fire Service staff spoke of the crashes they had attended, the high number of under 24 year olds involved in crashes and the cause of the crash being invariably driver behaviour. This is what makes the Road Safety Experience such an important part of how we improve road safety by helping young people understand the consequences of taking risks on the road.

Whilst the Road Safety Experience is normally open to schools, colleges and groups by prior arrangement there will be an open day on 13 August. I believe it’s well worth a visit especially if you have a teenager in the family.


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