AVFS Fire Station Opening

On April 13 2019 the new fire station at the Old Warden Aerodrome and home of the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service (AVFS) was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis.

The fire station provides accommodation for the five fire appliances operated by the service along with extensive equipment storage and maintenance areas, a control office, a locker room for storage and drying of operational fire kit, which is all kept in individual lockers and a large training room facility fully equipped with audio visual capabilities and a kitchen area.

The Chairman of the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service Trustees said “This facility is the envy of our brother fire-fighters and has provided the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service with a major step forward in the standards of its operational development and delivery. We are very conscious that some of the aircraft based here at Old Warden are the only ones of their kind left flying, and we take very seriously the duty of protecting them and the pilots that fly them. The new fire station is probably one of the best to be used by a volunteer service such as ours.

We intend to keep it in the forefront of volunteer services and provide the very best service to the Shuttleworth Collection, other aviation organisations and the people of Bedfordshire to provide rescue and fire-fighting and first aid facilities. We are most grateful to the Shuttleworth Collection for providing this building for us and the organisations and individuals who contributed towards helping us to fit it out to our requirements.

We are very proud and honoured that Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis and the many other distinguished guests could be with us to celebrate the official opening of our new home and the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the AVFS.”

The new fire station replaces a temporary building which was built by the volunteers in 1999 and has served the group well over the last 20 years. It became apparent that these buildings were reaching the end of their safe and serviceable life and an appeal was launched to help build a new facility. Whilst the appeal raised a reasonable sum of money it fell short of the amounts required to construct a new building.

After considerable talks with the Shuttleworth Trust it was agreed that they would provide a building and the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service would gift the funds raised toward the fitting out of the building to make it a fit for purpose fire station. The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service is most grateful for the help from the Shuttleworth Trust and the many other individuals, groups and organisations who contributed to the project and have made it possible to build the fantastic new state of the art facility we now have.

The official opening of the fire station was followed by an anniversary dinner to celebrate 25 years of the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service and was attended by our distinguished guests, patrons and members. The dinner was followed by speeches looking back at the 25-year history of the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service and our ongoing relationship with the Shuttleworth Trust. The evening concluded with presentations of long service medals, presentations of promotion insignia to four new junior officers and awards for member of the year and outstanding service.

The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service was officially formed in 1994 to provide rescue and fire-fighting services to the Shuttleworth Collection for their air displays. There were around 6 members using limited fire appliances and equipment, they had little formal training or contact with external services or the Civil Aviation Authority.

Over the following years equipment and training improved and the membership grew. In 2002 the Airfield Volunteer Fire Service was registered as a charity with the charity commission.

On 2 June 2015 the AVFS was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. The QAVS is described by the Cabinet Office as “the MBE for volunteer groups” and is the highest award given to voluntary groups across the UK for outstanding work done in their local communities. The award was presented by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis during the flying display day on 6 September 2015. The citation for the award is for ‘Providing and maintaining an emergency fire and rescue service for the benefit of the public of Bedfordshire and protecting the world’s aviation heritage.’

The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service now has a membership of around 40 volunteers and is considered to be one of the best Lower Category Rescue and Fire-Fighting services in England. We are looking forward to the next 25 years and continuing to improve our service delivery and standards. Our renewed relationship with the Shuttleworth Trust, the facilities and the financial stability they have provided will most certainly help us to do so.

The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service is always seeking new members to help us provide Rescue and Fire-Fighting and medical services primarily to the Shuttleworth Collection but also to other selected aviation organisations in Bedfordshire and the immediate surrounding area. We are currently looking to hold recruit assessments in September 2019 and would particularly like to receive applications from medical personnel interested in offering their volunteer services. You would ideally need to live within a 30-mile radius of the Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. If you are interested in joining us, please take a look at our website to find out more about us and download an application form or email our administration office