Major high-rise training exercise in Bootle, Merseyside

27th June 2019

A Bootle tower block will host a major training exercise at the end of this month as Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service lead an exercise to test their response to a major incident in a high rise building.

 Irlam House, on Church Walk in Bootle, Merseyside will be the scene for the exercise, which will involve around 13 fire engines, 10 support vehicles and an Aerial Platform Ladder (ALP) vehicle. In addition to Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service will be taking part in the exercise.

The exercise will take place on Thursday June 27, between 10.30 and 2.30pm and will simulate a fire on an upper floor of Irlam House. There will be a small amount of pretend smoke similar to dry ice for realism, but no fire effects.

The exercise aims to test a number of areas and give new firefighters the opportunity to experience a realistic fire and evacuation scenario in a high-rise building. The exercise will test operational procedures for high rise fires, evacuation methods and the lines of communication during a major incident. This will also be an opportunity to test new equipment such as the latest Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) and procedures such as methods of entry and search techniques. Around fifty students will be acting as residents requiring evacuation during the exercise with around 200 ‘players’ in the exercise in total.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service aims to keep any disruption to a minimum and will be asking local residents and businesses to avoid parking at Church Gardens for the duration of the exercise if possible. The Service is publicising the exercise widely in the hope that residents will be aware of the exercise and realise it is not a real fire, avoiding false alarm calls to fire control. However, if there is any doubt, members of the public should always dial 999.

The exercise will be thoroughly evaluated and any learning outcomes will be shared both locally and nationally in an effort to improve safety for all and hopefully reduce the possibility of future high-rise fires.

Group Manager Gary Oakford said:

‘This is a great opportunity for us to carry out a large exercise in a realistic setting. While the risk of a serious fire in a high rise building in Merseyside is low thanks in large part to our preventative work in the community, the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a constant reminder of what can happen when those risks become real.

With this exercise we aim to test current procedures and national guidance, ensuring that they are robust, effective and fit for the future. We would like to thank the local community and One Vison Housing for giving us the opportunity to carry out this exercise which will ultimately keep everyone in Merseyside safer.’

A spokesman from One Vision Housing said:

‘We are delighted to support such an important exercise and continue our successful partnership working with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service. This training will help ensure the safety of our customers and the wider community in the future.’

For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over or those referred by partner agencies.