Published on Thu Mar 24, 2022 by David J Colbran
Another really interesting commission working with Livv Housing documenting a fire and rescue exercise in high-rise residential apartments.
It was at Gaywood Green Heights at Broad Lane a scheme of four 11-story low-rise buildings in Kirkby. These flats were built back in 1962 and are 32 metres tall. They consist of 256 flats and their demolition was approved back in 2018. Most tenants have already been moved away from the blocks, with only a handful of properties still occupied at the time of writing. It is planned the site will be re-developed and regenerated soon.
As most of the apartments are empty Livv Housing approached Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) and offered the scheme for exercise purposes. The blocks are ideal for training sessions and presented a rare opportunity to create a series of rescue scenarios at high levels in a residential setting.
12 appliances attended from four Fire Rescue Services (Merseyside, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Lancashire) with the local MFRS leading the event. They undertook a total of four exercises using six appliances running throughout the day. I was there for the morning two exercises, which simulated arrival on site, link up with local fire marshal, site perimeter check and secure, connections to water supplies and entry to building. To add realism, the interior to the buildings were filled with fake smoke - which was good for the exercise, not so good for me taking photographs or the video team ! Also there was a group of students pretending to be residents that needed to be safely evacuated.
Some senior management from the housing association were in attendance, so I made sure we had some group shots with a representative from MFRS, their vehicles and the tower blocks in the background. And of course lots of action images that were shared with the fire service's PR and press team.
Finally, it was interesting to have a chat with a firefighter who was operating a drone. They explained these were becoming essential tools in larger incidents, getting a bird's eye view of a situation. Not all locations have 360 access, so it is important get an alternative view from up high. He said it was a safer way of assessing the situation rather than putting human lives at risk. And that they provided real-time data about evolving, remote or hard-to-reach emergency situations, particularly in high-risk incidents. Fascinating stuff.
Of course I was super impressed by the organisation and professionalism of the fire and rescue service. It really was a privilege to watch their exercises and to see best practice rescue in action. These are the people who will literally save your life!
Tags: housing, fire, rescue, training
Author: David J Colbran
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