RAF

Museum Of RAF Firefighting In Danger Of Closing For Good

The museum's founder said vehicles from the collection are being stored outside in a field, with the hunt now on for another new home.

A museum showcasing the work of Royal Air Force firefighters is again in danger of being closed to the public for good.

The Museum of RAF Firefighting has been struggling in recent years after leaving its original home at RAF Scampton and having to repeatedly relocate since.

It only moved into its new home at a car dealership's empty showroom in Lincolnshire in October - however, with the building now up for sale, the search for a new location has begun again.

Steve Shirley, the museum founder and former RAF firefighter, said morale among the staff has hit new lows with the hunt on for yet another new home.

"I think morale is probably at the lowest it’s ever been because it’s starting to get monotonous," he said.

"We’ve got this fantastic project. We know it has got huge potential, it’s just been an absolute uphill battle since we lost the protection of the MOD [Ministry of Defence] when we used to be at RAF Scampton."

The museum's collection includes more than 50 firefighting vehicles from across the Air Force's history.

Most of the vehicles, which have undergone extensive restoration work, are now being stored outside.

The collection is the largest fire collection in the country and the only one that specialises in military firefighting.

"So, we've actually got vehicles with, literally, tarpaulins over the top of them and when you consider some of these things have been under restoration for, like, four years, to suddenly put something that you’ve spent four years restoring outside into a field with a tarpaulin over the top of it, it’s equally as soul-destroying as the whole situation, to be honest," he said.

"Literally, your first job in the morning is to wake up, open the curtains and look at what the weather’s doing.

"You’re thinking ‘right there’s a hard frost, is that damaging any of the water systems on the fire engines that are parked out in the open?'.

"If it’s chucking it down with rain you can almost envisage every raindrop soaking its way into a wooden frame on a fire engine and starting to rot and the rust coming through."

With the museum's number of vehicles, relocating is both logistically challenging and costly.

But the most difficult part is finding a location to move to, and without an income from visitors, options are limited.

The museum is now appealing for donations potential benefactors or the offer of space to house the collection before it becomes irreversibly damaged.

The museum says it needs a warehoused-sized building or an empty aircraft hangar to house all its vehicles and is urging anyone who might be able to help to get in touch.