The new live fire training facility has been fully commissioned and is already helping to enhance life-saving skills and resilience within the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service.
A controlled fire was set today (Friday 28 October 2016) to show how the specially-engineered compartments are used to create a realistic environment in terms of working in extreme heat, humidity, smoke and restricted visibility.
The demonstration highlighted the behaviour of a fire from the point of ignition to full development and how firefighters set about extinguishing the flames. Training exercises will also help firefighters to recognise the signs of potentially deadly backdraft and flashover conditions.
The facility, approved by Tynwald in November 2015, has multiple points of entry to simulate real-life emergencies in different types of buildings and vessels.
In addition to live fire scenarios, the units – manufactured through Special Container Solutions Ltd and Bootle Containers Ltd of Liverpool – will assist training in other key disciplines, including ladder and pump exercises, aerial ladder siting and line rescue techniques.
Following the completion of the construction and installation work in September, officers from the UK Fire Service College at Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire visited the Island to provide training in the safe use of the facility to eight local breathing apparatus instructors.
A breathing apparatus course has been held for retained firefighters who have joined the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service over the past 12 months. The potential future uses of the facility and its design principles have also generated early interest from both the public and private sectors, with a number of site visits taking place.
Juan Turner MLC, Home Affairs Member with responsibility for the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service, said:
‘The live fire training facility is an important investment to ensure our firefighter training remains in line with UK best practice and is of the highest possible standard.’
Minister Bill Malarkey MHK added:
‘As well as helping to protect the local community, this project continues the Department’s track record of delivering significant revenue savings through capital investment in our infrastructure.’
The facility, which is located at the rear of the Energy from Waste Plant on Richmond Hill, means that local firefighters can undertake essential training in the Isle of Man, reducing the need to travel to the UK. In addition to costing approximately £50,000 a year, off-Island training depletes the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service by the equivalent of two crewed appliances and takes retained firefighters away from their primary employment.
Kevin Groom, Chief Fire Officer, said:
‘While the live fire facility is still in its early weeks of operation, it is already proving to be a tremendous asset and I look forward to its future as a multi-use training complex.’
‘It is vital that our men and women are regularly tested in realistic fire conditions and that our training remains consistent with national recommendations. Developing our people on-Island also means they remain here and are available to respond in the event of a major incident.’