Tresco is a small, family-run island measuring approximately 3.5 kilometres by 1.75 kilometres wide! It’s one of the five inhabited islands, which together with 200 or so islands, islets and rocks, form the Isles of Scilly, an area of outstanding natural beauty lying 28 miles southwest of Land’s End in Cornwall.
In 2012 the long established commercial helicopter service that linked Tresco to the mainland was lost. But 8 years later in March 2020 a new commercial helicopter service was reinstated, linking Tresco and St Mary`s with a brand new purpose-built heliport in Penzance in Cornwall. In Autumn 2019 a major investment in the Tresco Heliport Fire and Rescue Service commenced to accommodate this new service.
In 1834, the Duchy of Cornwall leased the Isles of Scilly to a Hertfordshire squire, “Augustus Smith”, who became the Lord Proprietor of the islands. He helped bring a level of prosperity to Scilly that is still enjoyed to this day. He built his home, Tresco Abbey, alongside the ruins of an old priory and set about creating a world class garden containing plants from all over the world. Successive generations have built on his legacy and today Tresco Abbey Garden is internationally renowned as one of the finest sub-tropical flora and fauna collections in the Northern Hemisphere.
Today, Mr Robert Dorrien-Smith and his wife run the business as the Tresco Estate, incorporating Tresco Island plus the Hell Bay Hotel on the neighbouring island of Bryher. The Dorrien-Smith family still live in Tresco Abbey. All the properties, holiday accommodation and businesses on Tresco are owned and managed by the estate. Approximately 100 people permanently live on Tresco.
Lord King, then Chairman of British Airways, officially opened Tresco Heliport on the 26th April 1983. Between 1983-2012 the heliport was serviced by a successful all year round commercial helicopter service linking the island to both St Mary`s Airport and Penzance on the mainland. However following the loss of this commercial air link on the 31st October 2012 Tresco Heliport was forced to close. Private and charter helicopters were still welcomed by prior arrangement with all other visitors transferring to Tresco by boat from St Marys. The loss of this service resulted in a slump in tourism to the island but it was far more serious for the islanders who relied on the helicopter for a quick getaway to the mainland and for medical emergencies.
In 2017 Mr Dorrien-Smith (Tresco Estates) submitted a planning application to build a brand new heliport in Penzance; reinstating a commercial helicopter service to both Tresco & St Mary`s and potentially unlocking millions of pounds of stalled private investment in the Isles of Scilly. Two years later following some delays in the planning process the new £4.3 million heliport was finally given the go ahead; with the first turf for the new site “cut” in March 2019. The new heliport was promptly completed with the inaugural flight taking off from the new facility on the 17th March 2020.
Tresco Heliport Fire & Rescue Service is licensed to UK CAA CAT 2 requirements. It has a establishment of a fire station manager, 5 full time firefighters (2 x Low CAT Supervisors and 3 junior officers) plus 2 back-up Isles of Scilly Fire & Rescue Service (Tresco) on-call firefighters, adding some additional resilience if required. A minimum of 4 firefighters are on duty at any one time (additionally playing an active role in the day to day running of the heliport) with all airport fire service personnel possessing a CAA Aerodrome Fire and Rescue Certificate.
Close to the heliport there is a dedicated fire training ground incorporating a brand new ‘in-house’ built pressure fed diesel helicopter simulator. This fantastic rig furnishes realistic engine, undercarriage and cabin firefighting scenarios. The training ground also has a purpose built bunded fire ground with a separation tank plus a 10,000 litre water tank for the purpose of hard suction top up.
The fire service has two brand new fire-fighting vehicles at their disposal.
Fire 1 is a Terberg DTS Fire & Rescue “TACR 3” CAT 2 rapid intervention vehicle based on the vigorous Isuzu D-max 4×4 featuring a 195 bhp diesel engine, manual transmission, an upgraded rear axle set-up plus an Isuzu Extra-cab with two half doors.
It boasts a class leading polypropylene body with integrated water/foam tanks configured with three spacious equipment lockers. Key points of the specification include a Hale HPX pump, ‘pump-n-roll’ and a 350 lpm front mounted electric TFT Tornado bumper turret. It carries 700 litres of water, 42 litres of foam and portable secondary media.
Fire 2 is a Kubuto RTV400Ci all wheel drive pickup. This light ATV features a 15bhp single cylinder petrol engine, automatic transmission and seating for a driver and 1 crew. The Kubuto is ideally suited for emergency off road response and low tide attendance from the heliport. It has been adapted to carry various portable fire fighting media and essential first strike fire apparatus.
The TACR3 was supplied fully equipped with a wide range of new fire fighting apparatus and crash rescue equipment. Additionally all airport fire service personnel have been personally issued with new class leading Rosenbauer Fire Max 3 Gold PPE and Rosenbauer Heros-xtreme helmets.
Tresco Heliport is currently open 0800-1830 hours Monday-Saturday plus out of hours to support Coastguard and air ambulance medivacs. The new AW139 scheduled air service from Penzance Heliport accounts for 150 aircraft movements per month which is substantially topped up by private charter aircraft and PPR GA aircraft. The heliport has a small passenger terminal building and a single grass runway 07/25 measuring 368 metres long and 6 metres ASL. Annually up to 35,000 passengers pass through the heliport.
For more information please visit: www.tresco.co.uk