GMFRS High Rise Bury

Tri-service training exercise tested Fire and Rescue Services response to high-rise incidents

A tri-service training exercise tested the capability of three of the North’s Fire and Rescue Services to jointly respond to a high-rise fire and rescue people trapped.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) ran the latest in a series of high-rise training exercises at its state-of-the-art training and safety centre in Bury on Friday 27 August.

The training rig allows the Service and its partners to take part in large-scale exercises simulating incidents in a variety of realistic scenarios, including high-rise buildings.

The exercise included 12 fire engines and a number of support appliances. Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were also involved in the exercise, allowing responders to practice cross-border working.

The training simulated a fire involving a high-rise building and the rescue of a number of casualties, who were role-played by volunteers.

As part of the training realistic fire conditions where set in GMFRS high-rise training building that needed controlling and extinguishing by firefighters. Firefighters and firefighting equipment were deployed to the upper floors of the high-rise building to successfully resolve the incident and test firefighters’ skills and knowledge of high-rise building fires to the maximum. 

Volunteers from GMFRS and British Red Cross acted as casualties on the day and a number were rescued from the upper floors and roof of the building by a GMFRS aerial appliance. This allows crews to practice rescuing people from greater heights – something used in practice during the fire at the Cube in Bolton in November 2019 when a resident was rescued from a sixth-floor window by a high reach aerial appliance. Over the past 18 months, GMFRS has invested more than £2.5m in these new appliances.

GMFRS’ Head of Training and Operational Assurance, Stewart Forshaw, said: “Greater Manchester has one of the most challenging and complex high-rise built environments in the UK.

“Our state-of-the-art training centre in Bury that includes a high-rise training building lets us run large scale multi-pump incidents that help us understand the resources and equipment required to deal with a high-rise incident and allows incident commanders to perform their roles in realistic scenarios.

“It is vital that we exercise our plans regularly as it allows firefighters and officers to apply and test operational procedures and help us learn and improve.

“Exercises also allow firefighters and officers to familiarise themselves with the incident command structure, resources and equipment required to deal with a high-rise incident that requires both evacuation and rescue of people as well as giving incident commanders the opportunity to perform command roles in a realistic and challenging scenario.”

It is also important to share learnings from training exercises and the most recent high-rise exercise had colleagues observing from the National Fire Chief’s Council, UCLan, Home Office, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service.

Richie Rickaby, Area Manager for Community Safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This collaboration between Tyne and Wear FRS and Greater Manchester FRS is extremely beneficial as it enables the two Services to share ideas, refine existing policies and procedures to ultimately make improvements to ensure firefighter safety. Thereby providing a better service to the communities of Greater Manchester and Tyne and Wear.”

GMFRS has a number of further large-scale exercises planned as part of its commitment to providing a fast, safe and effective response – as outlined in Greater Manchester’s first Fire Plan, which was launched in May this year.

08/09/2021 12:21 PM