FIRE chiefs have marked the end of an era with a ceremony to signal the closure of the national fire service college at Gullane.
Thousands of firefighters have been trained at the East Lothian college over the past six decades.
But all its work is now being transferred to the former Strathclyde training base at Cambuslang, which will serve the whole Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
The final courses to be run at Gullane ended yesterday and, in a special ceremony, the college flag was taken down and presented to a representative from Cambuslang.
In a speech marking the occasion, Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay said: “I feel that today is of mixed emotions for all of us who have spent many a time in this college.
“Thanks to all the staff in the past and present who have worked here and I hope the spirit of these people will transfer to our college in Cambuslang.”
The college was opened in a former hotel in Gullane in 1954 and has provided initial training for all newly-recruited firefighters across Scotland as well as specialist training for serving staff. It expanded over the years and eventually consisted of seven buildings including a “real fire” training facility.
The college has trained more than 1000 firefighters a year over the last 60 years.
East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray, who campaigned to save the college, said: “This is a sad day for East Lothian. The fire service college has done great service over many years and I still believe it was the wrong decision to close it.
“But the most important thing right now is to acknowledge the contribution it has made to the training of firefighters from across Scotland.
“It will be missed locally. Gullane has always been proud of the college being in its community.”
The building is now expected to be sold, but there is no indication yet of what is likely to take the place of the college.
Mr Gray said: “For the local community the big question now is what happens to this prime site in the village.
“The community council would like to see a mixed development which will provide some jobs as well as any residential proposals.
“I have written to the Scottish Government asking for these views to be take into account when it comes to dispose of the site.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it was working closely with East Lothian Council to ensure any future plans for the site would both maximise capital receipts and also help to deliver the needs of the local area.