GMFRS leads the way in high-rise evacuation procedures

GMFRS’ high-rise training facility.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) recently held a large scale exercise at its training facility in Bury to test its emergency evacuation procedures in response to a major incident in a high-rise building.

Exercise Hertz 2, which took place on 30 August, is the second of four exercises planned for 2019/20, and utilised the lessons learnt from the first exercise in June to further develop and practice High-rise Immediate Residents Evacuation (HIRE) procedures.

The exercise involved 19 appliances from GMFRS, 15 specialist officers and colleagues from North West Fire Control (NWFC). Appliances were deployed from Bury Community Fire Station to Bury Training and Safety Centre where they were faced with a well-developed, multi-seated fire in GMFRS’ high-rise training facility.

Volunteers helped to enhance the scenario by acting as casualties, ensuring that the scenario was as close as possible to a real-world fire incident.

Station Manager Jim Bridge, who organised the exercise, said, “We are developing our HIRE procedures with a series of highly challenging, realistic training scenarios. We have worked closely with operational crews and continually sought their feedback to ensure that this is a collective endeavour to deal with a serious risk to the people of Greater Manchester. This scenario allowed us to see what we do well but more importantly what we can improve on.

“I would like to thank all the operational crews for their enthusiasm and commitment to help us improve our procedures for evacuating residents in high-rise buildings. I would also thank those who helped to plan and deliver this large-scale exercise, including colleagues from Bury Training and Development Centre, NWFC, Emergency Response Hub, the Operational Assurance Team, Salvation Army and especially the crews from Command Support Stations, as well as all the volunteers who gave up their time to help make this exercise as realistic as possible.”

Operational Assurance Group Manager Al Topping added, “We have had a very high level of interest nationally in what we are developing with HIRE. Senior officers from London, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside fire and rescue services came to observe the work that we are doing in Greater Manchester.”

Learnings from the training will be used to further improve HIRE procedures, which will then be tested at subsequent exercises and impact operational work in the future. Further exercises are planned for quarters three and four and will involve all watches, stations and flexi-duty officers.