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St Peters Court hosts major training exercise to prepare for high-rise blazes

PUBLISHED: 14:47 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 December 2017

St Peters Court, Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher

St Peters Court, Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Firefighters took part in a large scale training exercise in Lowestoft to practice procedures in case of a high-rise blaze.

St Peters Court, Lowestoft. Photo: Nick Butcher. St Peters Court, Lowestoft. Photo: Nick Butcher.

Crews from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service attended St Peters Court, in Chapel Street, on Tuesday, December 5.

Ian Bowell, area commander and head of emergency response, said such training operations are necessary for the fire service to fully prepare for large scale incidents such as flooding, ship fires and high-rise blazes.

However, he admitted the Grenfell Tower tragedy earlier this year provided an added incentive to analyse current procedures.

He said: “When anything significant happens it prompts us to review our procedures and ensure they are adequate and robust.

“Grenfell focused the whole world’s attention on high-rise safety.”

Crews from Bungay, Beccles, Lowestoft and Wrentham took part. Additional units, including an aerial ladder platform, would attend the 16-storey building in the eventuality of a real fire.

Mr Bowell said: “The logistical exercise centred on reports of a fire on the 11th floor of the tower with people reported as being missing.

“The scenario was set and we monitored the crew’s reactions.

“We made the hour and half exercise as realistic as we could and in the end firefighters were able to gain effective entry into the flat in between 20 and 30 minutes.

“It is a long time for residents to be in the flat but it is a very difficult and resource intensive response that is needed.”

He added: “The exercise went reasonably well – there is always something for us to learn.

“It’s part of our ongoing process of training firefighters so they have the skills required to deal with complex incidents.

“We will now disseminate the learning across the whole service.”

The area commander praised the reaction of residents at St Peters Court.

“They were brilliant and welcomed us in,” said Mr Bowell. “In a real-life situation people would be going about their life as they normally would.

“It had the benefit of making it as real as it could be.”

For more details on fire safety visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/suffolkfireandrescue or call 01473 260 588.

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