Moorland Fire Exercise meets with success.

Today the Bolton MRT took place in a major moorland exercise organised by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, to test incident procedures with respect to the GMFRS response to a major moorland fire incident.

Within such an incident the team would be called out to support GMF&RS in a multi pump, Fire Appliance, response to provide on scene standby rescue cover for fire fighters deployed on to the moors in case of accident. The team would have secondary possible roles in providing local knowledge, supporting deployed fire fighters, providing additional off road transport capabilities, and additional communications provision.

The aims of todays exercsie which commenced at circa 10.00hrs were;

  • To enable GMFRS and LFRS personnel to practice moorland fire fighting procedures.
  • Familiarise GMFRS and LFRS personnel with the risks associated with moorland fire fighting.
  • Familiarise all personnel with the vehicles and equipment available within such an incident.
  • Familiarise all involved with the Incident Command processes in use at such incidents.
  • Forge links with all the partner agencies involved in the exercsie.
  • Simulate a casualty evacuation of an injured fire fighter from the moors.

Considerable resources took part in this exercise, including

  • Fire Appliances, Specialist Support Appliances and Control Units from GMFRS,
  • Fire Appliances from LFRS,
  • United Utilities Estate Management staff and Rangers,
  • Bolton MBC Civil Contingency Team,
  • Greater Manchester Police and
  • the Salvation Army.

Seven Bolton MRT team members took part, to represent the whole team, given this exercise took place during the working week most members could not attend, although in a genuine emergency most of our employers are very supportive in allowing team members time off to attend.

GMF&RS Incident Control unit, something our radio communications officer dreams about.

Former Team Leader Bob Hutchinson was in charge of the small Bolton MRT element, alongside Fred Taylor, (M.R. Regional Water Safety Officer, and a former Team Training Officer), Team Doctor Sarah Drake, Alistair Greenhough and his Trainee Search Dog Tess (Alistair in his full time job is a very experienced A&E Nurse), Matthew Hailwood, Dave Carter, and Elaine Gilliland.

We also deployed three of our four Team Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances.
The initial RVP was Scout Road on the fringe of Smithills Moor, and as the exercise progressed from its 10.00hrs start in ’real time,’ the exercise gained steady momemtum, with more Fire Appliances and resources being deployed to the exercise incident, culminating in our attendance being requested at circa 12.20hrs, in reality we were waiting just around the corner, well it was an exercise!

Towards the end of the exercise we were requested to attend to the report of an “injured fire fighter with a suspected fractured leg,” on the moorlands alongside the Winter Hill TV Station access road. Arriving at this part of the exercise our team members worked jointly alongside a Fire crew from Hindley Fire Station, to effect the casualty care, using our specialist splintage equipment and then carried out a joint stretcher evacuation of the ’injured fire fighter’ on one of our specialist Bell Mountain Rescue Stretchers.

Alistair & Dr Sarah splint the ’injuried’ firefighter….

….joint fire service & MR stretcher carry….

….8 man carry becomes 2 man, over the duck boarding….

….casualty at the roadhead and the safety of the MR Ambulance.

Following an on scene debrief this successful multi agency exercise was concluded at circa 14.30hrs.

Thanks are due to all in GMFRS who were involved in the planning and execution of this exercise, including Graham Banks of White Watch, Bolton North Fire Station. Thanks are also due to the Salvation Army who kindly provided catering throughout the whole exercise.

Our attendance at this exercise generated a large amount of renewed interest in the team from GMFRS, and a great many requests from different GMFRS elements to visit their Watches to demonstrate our vehicles, equipment resources and wide range of incident capabilities, this is an on going liaison tasking within the team which has involved many past visits to Farnworth, Leigh, Hindley, Stretford, Agecroft, Manchester Central, Bury Central, Horwich, Bolton North, Bolton Central, Salford Broughton, Wigan and Eccles Fire Stations and Agecroft Control in GMFRS and Darwen Fire Station in LFRS.

Alongside such requests to visit the team has also received enquiries from today regards further joint exercises with GMFRS.