Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
146 Bolton Road
Tel: 0161 736 5866
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Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training Facilities
As you may already be aware, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have recently started their 'real fire' training at Oldham Fire Station on Lees Road.
During the first part of 2011, GMFRS submitted a planning application to Oldham Council for the changes to the land, to allow this training to take place. The planning application outlined how we were proposing to put new adapted ISO shipping containers (simulators) on the land at the back of the fire station for training purposes.
These simulators allow for 'real fire' conditions to be replicated for our fire fighters. This ensures that they are suitably trained to deliver the highest level of service to the communities within Greater Manchester.
Prior to the Oldham Council granting planning permission, we asked local people what they thought of our plans and whether or not they thought they would be affected by it.
We want to continue to engage local people in our plans, specifically we want to answer any queries that people have about the training site and hear any feedback from local residents.
Below we have posed a video, along with a series of questions and answers about the site. If there is something that you want to know, but is not covered in the questions below, please write it in the feedback form at the base of this page.
What is Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training?
Basically, it is designed to teach fire fighters how a compartment fire (a fire in a room) is likely to develop and behave under different ventilation situations (with doors or windows open or closed).
This type of training was introduced in the 1980's and has been increasingly used over the last couple of decades, by many different Fire and Rescue Services, both in the UK and abroad.
The simulators are designed to replicate, as realistically as possible, the activity of fire gases within a compartment. They also demonstrate a range of phenomena related to 'flashover', backdraft and other forms of fire gas ignitions.
Why do Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service want to carry out Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training?
We want to make sure our fire fighters have had a good opportunity to experience 'real' fire, so that if they attend an incident, they are appropriately trained.
On a universal basis, specific fire hazards were increasingly becoming linked with fire fighter deaths and quite often this was because they did not have the facilities to experience realistic conditions to observe and understand the basic principles of fire development and fire behaviour within the confines of a room or a building.
The simulators also provide an opportunity for our fire fighters to practice tactics for dealing with hot fire gases and extinguishing fires.
We want our fire fighters to have had this training, so that the people of Greater Manchester can have greater confidence in our ability to deliver the service.
Why use Oldham station for Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training?
We already own the land at the back of the station and already carry out some similar fire training on the land, so feel that it is ideal for the purpose.
There are also very few domestic dwellings in the immediate area, so we felt that this will help to lower the impact on local communities.
However, we do want to work with local businesses too. Already, we are listening to local people about how we can reduce the impact of the training on local people to as low a level as possible. For example; we are investing in special wind monitoring equipment, so that we can see when weather and wind conditions will increase the impact on local people. When this is the case- we simply won't use the units.
How often are Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service likely to be carrying out Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training?
To meet the training needs of the operational staff of the service, we will be using the training facility on weekdays on a Monday and Friday only. We will also only be using the burn units in winter time (between October and March), so they will not be used at all during the summer months.
Occasionally we will also use the units on a Saturday and Sunday, when it is necessary. However, this will be rare.
The training activity will take two periods of 60 minutes, so the simulators will not be lit for any longer than this.
What will the impact of this training be on the local area?
When we were planning to install the units we were conscious that some local people could feel that the smoke from the facility could harm them. To reassure local people, we spoke to "Entec" (impartial independent consultants) before we started the project. We asked Entec to look at the predicted emissions and air quality impacts resulting from the Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training facilities.
Entec are recognised as a national lead for Air Emission modelling and often used by the Environment Agency.
The modelling found that no detrimental effects of the local air quality levels are expected during normal use of the training facility.
All potential human receptors in the area have been assessed using the Environment Agency's Air Quality Assessment methodology and the predicted impact will be "negligible" (this is the lowest potential impact category).
What will be burnt in the shipping containers?
During the training we burn a product called 'Smart Ply OSB3'. It is a fully certified alternative to plywood and chipboard for structural applications - it has unparalleled environmental credentials, formaldehyde classification and technical accreditation.
Smart Ply OSB is the only wood panel for construction in which at least 90% of the timber used in its manufacture comes from well-managed forests, independently certified according to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
By using this product, we feel we are using the healthiest and most environmentally friendly product on the market.
Can I come and look at the site in action?
We want local people to have the opportunity to see what we're doing. We're proud that we have this facility; which allows our firefighters, a vital public service, to receive the very best training to keep local people safe.
It is because of this, that we want people to see what we're doing. During the start of 2012, we will be launching our 'viewing area' where people will be able to come and see the training happen and also learn about what it's all about.