Safety at the heart of family fun day

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Fire truck demonstrations, go karts and a chance to tour the newest safety centre in the country is just a taste of what Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service’s Safe Summer Fun Day will offer on Saturday July 19th from 10:30am – 4pm at Gloucester South Fire Station on Tuffley Road, Gloucester GL4 0AS.

Bringing together all aspects of safety, this free event for all the family will be held inside and outside the fire station and at its neighbouring safety education centre, SkillZONE.

The day will be packed full of great kids activities such as face painting but it will also promote the underlying theme of having a safe summer holiday.

Visitors will get a chance to try out SkillZONE’s innovative safety village and children will be able to take part in a safety treasure hunt with the centre’s Staysafeatron robots.

Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership will also host a mini Level 1 Bikeability session and go karts for people to find out how dangerous it is to drive drunk by wearing special ‘beer goggles’ which simulate what it feels like to be under the influence.

Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Stewart Edgar says “Put Saturday July 19th in your diary as we are planning a wonderful day with lots of exciting things happening to keep you entertained along with good food and refreshments.”

“As well as providing a community open day to both our facilities this is going to be the flagship event for safety this summer and is not to be missed.”

Other partners such as the Police, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, RNLI, British Red Cross and Bikesafe will also take part in the Safe Summer Fun Day. Different elements of safety will be focused on in the weeks leading up to the event with top safety tips offered to the public through social media which cover road safety, fire safety and water safety.

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Putting safety first sparks new career for Dominic

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From keeping schoolchildren safe to fighting fires, Dominic Tarulli hasn’t looked back since he started volunteering at SkillZONE.

The 20-year-old has been working at Gloucestershire’s safety education centre since it launched, and in that time he’s helped hundreds of young people and community groups tour the facility.

Now he’s encouraging more community-minded people to volunteer – guiding groups around the centre, which uses realistic settings to teach everything from road safety to hazards in the home.

Dominic said: “Just knowing that you are making children happy and safe is why I do it. I remember when my little cousins came with their school and they really looked up at me for working here.”

“That moment was particularly rewarding, just seeing them smile and learning something important as well.”

While working at SkillZONE, Dominic applied to attend the Fire Service College Firefighter Foundation Development Programme.

He said: “As cliche as it sounds it is a childhood dream to be a firefighter and I wanted to follow it through. I used to go to all the fire service open days and absolutely loved it. This was a great opportunity to get closer to that goal.”
Sponsored by the Fire Service College, Dominic completed the nine-week intense firefighter course in Moreton-in-Marsh, and is now looking for roles.

He added: “I’ve never done anything so hard, but I loved every minute of it and I am proud to have qualified as a firefighter at the end of it.”

SkillZONE needs more volunteer guides to take groups on two-hour tours of the centre scenarios, at which they encourage visitors to identify dangers and come up with ways to avoid risks.

Candidates come from all walks of life and only need to be able to give a minimum of two days a month. Along with on-the-job training, volunteers are offered courses in safeguarding, first aid, health and safety, and equality and diversity. SkillZONE also gives job references and pays for mileage.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “There are many good reasons to volunteer at SkillZONE. For Dominic it was helping him get closer to his dream career, but at the very least it gives people an opportunity to give something back to the community. It doesn’t demand any huge commitment and it’s extremely rewarding work.”

If you are interested in volunteering, visit or call 01452 834 150.


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Firefighters create realistic rescue scenario to mark Hoarding Awareness Week

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Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service will be marking the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week (19 to 25 May) through creating a realistic rescue situation at a mock hoarded property at SkillZONE, Gloucester at 3:30pm today, Tuesday 20th May.

In the last financial year three out of five fire-related deaths in the county involved hoarding. Hoarding is therefore an important issue to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service in terms of the fire risk it has on: hoarders, their families, nearby residents and the firefighters who rescue them.

This afternoon a realistic rescue situation will be set up in the sitting room at SkillZONE’s house which has been specifically used to hoard possessions. Journalists are invited to be rescued so they can see how difficult it is to enter and escape these properties in the event of a fire.

Gloucestershire’s Chief Fire Officer, Stewart Edgar says; “Hoarding poses a very real danger to our local communities as the nature of fire in a hoarded house is highly unpredictable and spreads much quicker.”

“We want to use this week to raise awareness and understanding of hoarding so we can work with residents and agencies to highlight the fire hazards associated with hoarding and try to reduce those risks.”

UK Hoarding Awareness Week 2014 was devised by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to increase understanding of issues relating to hoarding with the aim of making the community and firefighters safer.

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is calling on local residents to get in touch if they know someone who may be vulnerable and at risk of fire because of hoarding by emailing .

For more information on the CFOA organised week visit: and on twitter #UKHoardAware2014 is being used.

For advice and help with hoarding visit or

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Watch out for cows on the Common

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Cows make their annual return around the Minchihampton and Rodborough Commons today.

To mark this SkillZONE will give out a cow colouring competition to remind drivers to take care.

Last year, 12 cattle died in collisions with motor vehicles, a significant increase from 9 the year before. Each of these collisions involved not only the death of a cow, but the driver and passengers involved in the collision are put at risk of a serious injury.

Around 500 local cattle are expected to appear in the commons on Tuesday 13th May, known as marking day.

Gloucestershire County Council and the Police are reminding people to drive carefully around these areas. Posters have been designed by a working group and will be put up at the gateways to the commons to warn motorists of the upcoming release of cattle.

To help remind local people of the dangers, school children in the area will also be taking part in a colouring/ design competition to dress a cow.

Schools visiting Gloucester safety education centre, SkillZONE will be given out the coloring sheets during their trip.

Bill Powell is a local farmer whose cattle are released onto the commons every year.

He said: “It seems odd to some people to see cattle on unfenced properties, but grazing is the best way to keep the commons in good condition for everyone’s benefit.

“Last year saw the highest number of cattle deaths for a long time and we are all doing our best to keep these accidents to an absolute minimum. We are caring people and don’t want to see cattle killed or injured – or put drivers at risk. We have tried various schemes to keep cattle safe and alert drivers over the years and will continue to work with the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership in the interests of everyone’s safety.”

To download a picture of daisy the cow to enter the competition click here. For more information visit the Road Safety Partnership page.

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Free safety lessons offered to 10 year olds

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Primary schools in Gloucestershire are being invited to bring their Year 5 pupils for a free visit to the county’s only safety centre, SkillZONE.

SkillZONE is delighted to be rolling out the offer to all 236 state primary, junior and special schools after a £35,000 initiative was agreed by Gloucestershire County Council to be used in the 2014/15 budget.

The Gloucester centre, which opened just over a year ago, has a mock village that gives groups the chance to experience 16 safety scenarios that enable young people to make decisions about staying safe.

Around a third of primary schools have been to SkillZONE and research has shown that a 2 hour safety tour at the centre is particularly useful to Year 5 pupils as it ties in with their PSHE curriculum.

SkillZONE will be contacting primary schools in five phases over the next three months inviting them to book a free trip for Year 5 students through its online booking system.

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar says; “Keeping young people safe and the prevention of accidents and injuries is integral to our role. SkillZONE tackles this by teaching children how to make life-saving decisions whether that’s wearing a seatbelt or how to evacuate from a house fire.”

“I am thrilled we are able to provide these safety lessons to every Year 5 child in Gloucestershire and I believe they will leave us armoured with essential life skills which they can share with their families.”

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “We know that children can gain so much from visiting SkillZONE and it’s great news that more classes could now benefit from its important safety lessons.”

All school groups will be taught about road safety, fire safety and hazards in the home and teachers will be able to choose a further 6 scenarios covering areas such as water safety, an internet cafe, a magistrates court or a shop.

To find out more information about SkillZONE visit


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The Stay Safeatrons arrive at centre

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SkillZONE has become the new home for a band of trusty robots named the Stay Safeatrons.

The robots will help bring the SkillZONE experience to life and to deliver  safety messages to young people.

They were named the Stay Safetrons by Barnwood Junior school after they beat other Gloucestershire primary schools to win SkillZONE’s robot naming competition.

Larger child life-size cut outs awill be dotted around the village. Smaller robots will become part of the tours, hiding around the village for younger children to spot or used to identify danger.

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Design students learn to ‘Drive for Life’

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Twenty young design students became the first to take part in a new  course which teaches about the fatal four reasons for car crashes in their age group.

The Gloucester College pupils enjoyed interactive sessions created by the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership (RSP) at SkillZONE. These covered; distractions, speeding, wearing a seatbelt and the effect of driving under the influence.

The afternoon was also a chance to announce the winner of a RSP competition to design a new road safety campaign poster.

Winner Molly Corrigan-Jones (pictured) was presented with a new child’s car seat for her son and her artwork is being displayed in large billboards in SkillZONE’s village. It will also appear in Gloucester and Cheltenham campuses and the other students art work can be found here.

Click here to read the Gloucestershire Echo story on the event.

Josh Brettell, 17, tries out driving with goggles that simulating being drunk or on drugs.

Josh Brettell, 17, tries out driving with goggles that make you feel drunk or on drugs.

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World Book Day celebrated at centre

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The King’s School based in Gloucester celebrated World Book Day by dressing as  their favourite book characters for their visit to SkillZONE this morning.

Twenty children aged 8 and 9 years learnt about safety in the; road, home, fire, water, building site/electricity, rail, park and bus scenarios.

Following their tour Gloucestershire’s new Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar was on hand to judge the best costume.

Gregory who dressed as Dennis the Menace was presented with a £10 book voucher as his prize and all the children got book erasers in their goody bags.

SkillZONE Manager Donna Potts says; “We would like to make the link between enjoying the wonderful adventures in a book and learning about safety at SkillZONE so they can lead an active and adventurous real life.

“We often talk about distraction as well so we will try to remind them that they can lose themselves in a story but must concentrate on safety when they are near roads or doing something at home.”


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Volunteer Day, Sat March 1st

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SkillZONE, the Gloucester based Safety Education Centre, will be running a Volunteer Open Day on Saturday March 1st from 10am -12pm.

The event is being held to celebrate the great work of its current volunteers, to provide information for people interested in volunteering and to showcase SkillZONE to members of the community who haven’t been.

Volunteer Manager, Will Knight, says; “If you are interested in learning more about our safety education centre then you are welcome to come along. You are not obligated to volunteer but if you haven’t been to SkillZONE, it really is a wonderful resource which is worth seeing.”

SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art village which gives children and young people the chance to experience 16 real life scenarios, each designed to teach them how to recognise a range of dangerous situations such as on the road, in water, at home or online.

The morning will include a welcome with refreshments, the launch of SkillZONE’s new promotional video, a chance to chat to volunteers about what being a guide is like and a tour of SkillZONE’s village.

Volunteer and retired Firefighter Frank Prentice says of being a volunteer; “I find it interesting and it keeps you modern and in touch with young people. If a young person can remember just a few things about safety we tell them then it’s a good start in life. The feedback we have absolutely makes it worthwhile.”

SkillZONE is located next to Gloucester South Fire Station, Tuffley Lane, Gloucester, GL4 0AS. To register your interest in attending a tour email


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SkillZONE celebrates 1st birthday

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As SkillZONE marks its first birthday, figures show that more than 100 children have visited the county’s safety education centre every week during the school year.

The centre – a mock village that gives groups the chance to experience 16 real-life safety scenarios – was officially launched on 1st February last year and, since it opened:

  •  Classes from a third of the primary schools in the county have toured the facility;
  • Another 15,000 local people have attended events and training;
  • Courses have been run on issues including advanced motorcycle training, cycle training, speed awareness and school crossing patrols

To mark SkillZONE’s first birthday, cake was shared with classes from Oakridge Parochial School and Bisley Blue Coat CofE Primary School in Stroud, following a tour of the centre.

Maria Boon, head of prevention at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are delighted that so many schools and community groups across the county have taken up the opportunity to learn our vital safety lessons.”

“Young people’s safety is at the heart of what we do and SkillZONE is the perfect environment in which to teach it. We will continue to reach out to groups that might benefit from touring the centre – it could be a lifesaver.”

Adam Hanwell, 11, toured the facility with Crudwell Cub Scouts. His dad Tom Hanwell said the visit was particularly eye-opening because they had recently had a fire at home.

Tom said: “We came home to 6ft flames coming out of the chimney and all the emergency services were there. It was completely alien to my son and he couldn’t understand it.”

At the end of the SkillZONE tour he had a much better idea of what firefighters and emergency services do. It taught him exactly what to do if he was ever in a similar situation. Our scouts valued the trip so much we will definitely come again.

The centre has also been used for a wide range of community events including Older People�s Month, Black History Month, Child Accident Prevention Week and for safety courses for young mums.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “In the past year, we’ve had countless classes and community groups come through the doors of SkillZONE and nothing but positive feedback.”

“Many who have visited are already looking to return and I hope the centre will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Anyone who would like to know more or book a two hour tour should visit or put a date in their diary to attend a SkillZONE open day on Saturday July 19th.

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