Firefighters conduct height training exercise with partners

Firefighters descended on Southend town center as part of a training exercise to replicate an incident at a high-rise building.

Teams from Southend (two plus aircraft and an aerial ladder platform), Leigh, Basildon, Shoeburyness, Rochford and Grays, Witham Incident Command Unit and our Urban Search and Rescue attended.

Southend-on-Sea City Council, University of Essex, Essex Police and the Red Cross also took part in the Lego exercise.

Crews were first called to a kitchen fire in the ‘Lego’ building – housing the University of Essex in Southend.

This quickly escalated into a major incident with a number of occupiers, played by Red Cross volunteers, trapped.

Firefighters used smoke hoods, smoke curtains and electronic fire survival boards and tested procedures for dealing with high-rise incidents.

The exercise was organized by Station Manager Steve Byrne, National Operational Guidelines Implementation Project Manager and Shift Manager Scott Ford (Southend Fire Station).

Watch Manager Ford said: “This was a very useful exercise to test our procedures, equipment and communication.

“A big thank you to everyone who participated, especially to Ryan Curtis, the University of Essex Fire Safety Officer, who was key in making this event happen.

“Thank you to our crews for giving their all and to our control teams who took the calls and came under a lot of pressure.”

Rick Hylton, Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive, said: “It was a great opportunity to implement new procedures, test new equipment and work with our partners.

“It was a great exercise that took a lot of planning and hard work. But that’s what we’re training for, to make sure we’re ready to react.”

Ryan Curtis, fire safety officer at the University of Essex, said it was a very good exercise and everyone involved learned a lot.

He said: “Obviously we never want to be in this situation in real life, but drills like this mean we’re better equipped should something happen.”

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council provided resilience support, community safety officers and volunteers to help with the evacuation and safety of residents and oversaw road closures and traffic management.

Gary Cullen, Head of Resilience at Southend-on-Sea City Council, said: “The council has played an important role in supporting emergency services.

“The Resilience Team plays a vital role in coordinating the council’s response to a major incident and works with all blue light agencies, the NHS, charities and other local authorities to enable the council’s response advice to be coordinated, timely and appropriate.”

WATCH: Lego Exercise: Rick Hylton, Fire Chief/General Manager, and Chris Parker, Operations Manager

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