Merseyside Fire & Rescue held a major high-rise training exercise in Bootle earlier today, Thursday 27th June. The Bootle tower block, Irlam House was seen bellowing smoke from the 10th floor as 50 students played their part as residents stuck in the burning building and waiting to be rescued.
The exercise involved around 13 fire engines, 10 support vehicles and an Aerial Platform Ladder (ALP) vehicle. In addition to Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service also took part in the exercise.
The exercise aims to test a number of areas and give new firefighters the opportunity to experience a realistic fire and evacuation scenario in a high-rise building. The exercise tested operational procedures for high rise fires, evacuation methods and the lines of communication during a major incident. This was also an opportunity to test new equipment such as the latest Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) and procedures such as methods of entry and search techniques.
The exercise will be thoroughly evaluated and any learning outcomes will be shared both locally and nationally in an effort to improve safety for all and hopefully reduce the possibility of future high-rise fires.
Group Manager Gary Oakford said:
“This is a great opportunity for us to carry out a large exercise in a realistic setting. While the risk of a serious fire in a high rise building in Merseyside is low thanks in large part to our preventative work in the community, the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a constant reminder of what can happen when those risks become real.”
“With this exercise we aim to test current procedures and national guidance, ensuring that they are robust, effective and fit for the future. We would like to thank the local community and One Vison Housing for giving us the opportunity to carry out this exercise which will ultimately keep everyone in Merseyside safer.”
A spokesman from One Vision Housing said: “We are delighted to support such an important exercise and continue our successful partnership working with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service. This training will help ensure the safety of our customers and the wider community in the future.”
For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over or those referred by partner agencies.