South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue have developed a new Realistic Fire Training Project which allows firefighters to carry out live training scenarios in houses before they are demolished.
Firefighters have hailed the impact a first-of-its-kind training opportunity which saw them test their expert skills at a flame-filled live exercise in Barnsley.
All Photos: (South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue @SYFR)
Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes have made soon-to-be-demolished properties on Baden Street in the town available to the fire service for live fire and rescue training. The scenarios all involved a fire being set in one of the properties and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entering the property to rescue casualties and put out the blaze.
The burns were carried out in a safe, controlled way with every effort made to minimise disruption to local people and the environment. Fire bosses say that as the number of house fires in the country continues to fall, it’s vital that crews are trained in the most authentic conditions possible so that they are ready to respond to the best of their ability should real incidents occur.
Station Manager Chris Mee, said: “This project was designed to improve operational effectiveness, firefighter safety and public safety. As the number of house fires in South Yorkshire continues to reduce, our crews are exposed to less incidents making it even more important that the training we offer them is as realistic and challenging as possible.”
“It’s also an example of public agencies working together to deliver better outcomes for local people and we’re really grateful to Barnsley Council and Berneslai Homes for agreeing to facilitate these rare training opportunities. We now hope that other local partners will work with us to provide similar training opportunities.”
Although this type of training has been popular in some of the fire and rescue services in the South of England, this is the first time that this type of training has been done in the North of England, where the fire service is working in such close partnership with local councils, housing associations.
Tony Carlin, Head of Emergency Response for SYFR said “This is a joint venture between Barneslai Homes and Barnsley Council. What we’ve managed to do is access the properties, before they are regenerated. What we’d like to do, and using this as the backdrop, is to really focus on firefighter safety. By giving them this type of training and being able to run multiple crews through the buildings behind us, we’re confident now in the experiential learning that our crews are getting will see them into the real world, and help them face whatever it is they may be facing.”
Berneslai Homes Director of Assets, Regeneration and Construction, Stephen Davis said: “We were pleased to have co-operated with this project with the fire service for the benefit of our tenants and residents and their safety and it’s been a great success.”
It is hoped that the Realistic Fire Training Project (RFTP) will be rolling out to all four districts within South Yorkshire, however, with some work still to be completed on the RFTP.
Chris Mee said “We’re got a bit of work to do now to consolidate all the learning that’s come from Baden Street as this is the first time we’ve undertaken this exercise and then we are going to approach Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Councils to try and make use of their soon to be demolished properties and make Realistic Fire Training exercises such as this one, business as usual within South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.”
Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “As both a Barnsley councillor and chair of the Fire Authority, I am proud of the way in which local partners have come together to support the work of the fire service. Firefighters do a vital job and are hugely valued by the public, so it is only right that we work together to provide them with appropriate training opportunities such as these.”