AF&RS hails live fire training

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is hailing recent live-fire training and is asking for more developers to come forward to soon-to-be demolished properties.

Firefighters in the Service took part in the training on Friday (08/02) evening, which saw four crews from across the Service get the most realistic training possible.

Thanks to housing association Bromford, crews had access to six flats on Rodney Crescent in Filton and were able to train around several scenarios – one live fire and search & rescue.

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 burn was carried out in a safe, controlled way with every effort made to minimise disruption to local people and the environment.

The move comes following a 26 per cent fall in fires in residential dwellings for AF&RS between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

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.

Following the successful burn, which was also filmed for community safety projects moving forward, the Service is now calling on developers to donate more soon-to-be demolished properties for live burning training.

Lee Rogers, Watch Manager at Southmead Fire station, said: “This type of training and project is designed to improve crews effectiveness, firefighter and community safety, and ensure that we are ready for real life incidents that occur in the area.

“As the number of house fires in the area steadily reduces due to our community safety work, it is crucial that crews get hands-on experience and that the Service is able to offer as realistic and challenging training as possible.

“It is also an example of us working with the local community, developers and other organisations to ensure better outcomes for the communities we serve. We cannot thank Bromford enough for their help.

“If any public organisation or private developer has buildings set for demolition, we would love to work with them to develop a safe and effective project that helps all involved.”

Although this type of training has been popular for other Fire and Rescue Services, AF&RS has had little involvement over the past few years and would like to see that increase.

Steve Nicholas, Watch Manager for Health, Safety and Welfare, added: “What we have managed to do is enter the properties before they are regenerated and ensure training works for us as a Service.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our firefighters and the public. We’re confident that the experiences our crews are getting will see them better prepared for the real world, and help them face whatever incidents may occur.

“Moving forward, we would like to use more building for different scenarios, such as different types of incidents, urban search and recuse, fire investigation and more, each of which means we have best practice in place to ensure everyone involved is safe and secure.”

Bromford offered the houses to use for the training ahead of their planned demolition later this month. The company has also offered AF&RS more housing later in the year for live fire training.

Russ Fowler, Director of Strategic Asset Management at Bromford, said: “We have an excellent relationship with Avon Fire & Rescue and work with them to refer residents who would benefit from one of their free home fire safety checks.

"We’re delighted that the service was able to make such good use of some of our empty properties to provide firefighters with vital training.

“These properties are due to be demolished as part of our ongoing regeneration programme and will be replaced by 17 new homes.”