North West fire & rescue services come together for high-rise training exercise

Operational fire crews from across the north west came together this week to continue to test and embed learning from the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

Gaywood Green, in Kirkby, played host for the exercise on Wednesday 16 November.

Exercises ran in the morning and afternoon involving 10 fire engines from Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, plus specialist vehicles including an aerial appliance, a command unit and Merseyside’s drone team.

Role players volunteered from the University of Central Lancashire and were situated inside the flats to simulate residents. As part of the exercise, students began making emergency calls into the fire service control rooms, enabling Fire Control Operators to test out their own procedures and provide evacuation advice.

MFRS works closely with housing providers and local authorities to ensure the safety of those living within high-rise buildings. Gaywood Green – managed by Livv Housing – has been used by MFRS for training exercises since January 2020.

This latest exercise was designed to test the initial response and escalation of a developing fire at a high-rise building, as well as the vital liaison between residents, fire control rooms and the incident ground.

The morning exercise was managed by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s (MFRS) Control Room and the afternoon by North West Fire Control Room based in Warrington.

The exercise provided a platform to look at new technology available to the fire & rescue service including a brand new directional speaker which allows firefighters to communicate an alarm and evacuation advice into the building from outside.

MFRS Group Manager Phil Byrne, who planned and coordinated the exercise, said, “As a sector, the Fire & Rescue Service is progressive and strives to deliver the best possible service to our communities. It is the second time in 12 months the region has been able to lay on an exercise on this scale.

“It was fantastic to see fire crews and control rooms come together from across the North West and put into practice all of our training and procedures. We are grateful for the continued support of Livv Housing who provide this facility, the opportunity to exercise in a real high-rise building environment cannot be underestimated.

“Thanks also to the Rapid Relief Team for providing hot food and drinks to all those involved in the exercise and the local residents of Kirkby for their support whilst we undertake these training events.”

For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.

High-rise specific fire safety advice can be found on the MFRS website https://www.merseyfire.gov.uk/highrisefiresafety

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over or those referred by partner agencies

Images: MFRS

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