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Meet the AVFS - The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service at Shuttleworth

The Airfield Volunteer Fire Service is a charity organisation that provides fire and rescue cover for the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage and historic aircraft at Old Warden airfield. Originating as a small fire crew in 1989, the AVFS was officially formed in 1994 and has developed into a professional and highly regarded volunteer rescue and firefighting service. Registered as a charity in 2002(1094593). All the members, from Trustees to Firefighters, are unpaid volunteers.


The AVFS is a CAA Regulated Volunteer Rescue and Firefighting Service. This means that the members are trained to a professional level in rescue from crashed aircraft as well as firefighting. Training is carried out at the airfield, at the Luton Airport training ground, at fire stations operated by the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and specialist training facilities at the Teesside Airfield Fire Training Unit.


The AVFS have specialist vehicles to deal with incidents on the airfield. Many of them have been donated to us by the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue service. They are vehicles that have reached the end of their service life and have been modified, by us, to provide the specialist response we need on the airfield. Some are now quite old and have given over thirty years of service to Bedfordshire Fire Service and to us.


The aircraft in the Shuttleworth Collection are very often the only flying model of the type left and they do have the oldest flying aircraft in the world. These aircraft are beyond value and so too are the pilots that fly them on display days. This is why the service we provide to collection is so important.


We not only provide fire and rescue cover on the dozen or so special flying display days, we provide the cover on many other days when certain flying activities are taking place. For example when aircraft are arriving the day before the display day and leaving the day after they need, when there is ‘Wing Walking’ events and paid passenger flying. These days all have to be covered by volunteer fire fighters.


Our two initial response vehicles are getting old, and we need to replace them. Replacement appliances will cost us around £80,000 each. We need to keep the firefighter’s protective equipment up to date and in good condition. We need to replace some of our training aids and replace them with up-to-date equipment. We MUST keep our firefighters equipped with the very best kit and appliances. We owe that the pilots who display the historic aircraft, we owe it to the heritage of the aircraft of the collection and we owe it to the public who come to the display days.


If you would like to find out more about us, come and join us either as a firefighter or an administrator or donate to our equipment replacement programme please get in contact, on email to or come and see us next season, first display is ‘The Best Of British’ on 12th May 2024.

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May 2024

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