Joint MRT / GMFRS Tower Crane Exercise, Bury Town Centre.

This morning the team was up bright and early to participate in a joint Mountain Rescue Team / Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service vertical line rescue

The wintry weather of the very early morning hours had given way to grey skies and rain as team members assembled at our Ladybridge Hall base / HQ for the 09.00hrs departure for the exercise venue in Bury town centre.

Arriving at GMFRS Fire Station our team members met with other MRT colleagues and major GMFRS resources with all going straight into the comprehensive and necessary pre exercise briefing.

The exercise had many aims, the principle one being to practice joint MRT / GMFRS working on a structures rescue exercise, in this instance a tower crane. (more familiarly known as multi agency working) It also served to illustrate different working approaches to the scenarios in place, incident control and command methods were also practised.

The pre exercise briefing covered such topics as a Health and Safety Induction for those not familiar with building sites, introductions, the exercise scenarios and how they were to be tackled and construction site safety.

Run as a ’real time’ exercise, events commenced with the report of an incapacitated tower crane driver in his cab, some 120 feet off the ground, and the report of a tower crane operative having fallen off the rear boom of the same tower crane and now hanging off the boom held by his safety line.

The role of the crane driver was taken by the driver himself, whilst the free hanging operative was played out by a training mannequin. As the site was directly outside Bury Fire Station, the whole exercise was run from the Fire Station frontage.

GMFRS as they would be in a real incident were first on scene, and they undertook the priority task of establishing what had incapacitated the crane driver alongside securing the free hanging operative. A joint MRT party from the Oldham and Bolton MRTs then ascended the tower crane and effected the efficient rescue of the free hanging operative. GMFRS personnel had in the meantime assisted the crane driver to safety, his condition being in shock at ’having witnessed his colleague fall off the rear boom.’

This was all taking place under GMFRS Incident Management procedures including hazard awareness, the establishment of cordon areas, incident sectorisation and incident logging. The whole exercise was also recorded by a camera mounted on a GMFRS Hydraulic Platform appliance, which provided a video downlink to the GMFRS Operational Support Unit vehicle.

At the successful conclusion of the exercise a full ’hot debrief’ then took place, interrupted by our team receiving a call out from NWAS (Manchester) followed by a rapid standown in the Fire Station yard. (so we returned to the debrief)

In total the following resources took part in this exercise:

  • Bolton MRT 12x members and Four team vehicles.
  • Oldham MRT 14x members and two team vehicles.
  • Rossendale and Pendle MRT 1x member (observer capacity only)
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service crews and pump appliances from Bury FS, Broughton FS, Whitefield FS, Ramsbottom FS, Bolton Central FS, (Hydraulic Platform only) Atherton FS, (Operational Support Unit and Pump appliance)
  • GMFRS Urban Search and Rescue Unit.
  • GMFRS Operations Department ( HQ)2x Officers.
  • GMFRS Performance Review Team, 1x Officer.
  • GMFRS Senior Officers.
  • Greater Manchester Police, 2x Police Community Support Officers.
  • Site staff from the construction company ’ Laing O’Rourke.’
  • Representatives from the local press.

    All present agreed that this exercise had been a huge success and further strengthened the working relationships between our respective services.

    The team would like to thank all at GMFRS Bury Fire Station Blue Watch for their hospitality during this exercise, Al Topping, Watch Manager at Bury FS for all his assistance with this exercise and for carrying out the excellent and comprehensive pre exercise briefing and the hot de brief, and finally a very big thanks to all at Laing O’Rourke for allowing us free access to their tower crane, and to their site operatives for assisting in a great many ways which ensured the smooth operation of this exercise.