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Exercise tests high-rise evacuation plans

Posted on 05 June 2023

Further training exercises have taken place at Highfields Fire Station and Joint Fire Control to test our response to a high-rise fire with people trapped.

In the scenario a high-rise building in Nottingham was on fire with several people in the building. Roleplayers took on diverse roles to test how Joint Fire Control and officers would respond to a major incident in a high-rise building.

Chair of our staff Disability Matters Network, Tom Briggs, used a 999 text messaging service which can be used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have difficult with their speech. Tom also used Pegasus which allows people with a disability, illness or vulnerability to register and say a PIN number to the 999 operator so their details can be accessed quickly.

Community Engagement Manager Guninder Nagi put in 999 calls speaking Punjabi to test the response to someone calling whose first language was not English. In these situations, Joint Fire Control connect the caller to a translation service so information about the emergency can be passed through to the 999 call handler.

The exercises were supported by members of Pulp Friction, a social enterprise supporting people with learning disabilities, who put in test calls to the 999 British Sign Language (BSL) service. This software allows those who use BSL to make an emergency call and an interpreter relay the details to Joint Fire Control in real time.

Following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, recommendations were made for how fire and rescue services should respond to incidents involving people who are trapped in buildings. As part of this training, an officer was sent to Joint Fire Control to act as a point of contact between the fire ground and Control.

Area Manager Andy Macey, Head of Response, said: “As a fire and rescue service we are continually training to maintain and improve our skills so we can best serve the public at incidents we hope never occur.

“We conducted a similar exercise a few months ago and are pleased to see there have been improvements as we embed the learning from the Grenfell tragedy. We have taken away a lot of learning which will allow us to improve our emergency response to people when they need us.”

A man types in a message by text to 999 to alert them to a fire in a training scenario A sign language user uses 999BSL Two 999 control operators with headsets on take a 999 call