Team attends GMFRS “Exercise Northern Scout 2.”

Today the team attended the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (Western Division) ‘Exercise Northern Scout 2.’

Designed to test a GMFRS response to a moorland wildfire, the exercise was organised and co-ordinated by GMFRS Officers Nigel Booth and Wayne Guffogg, and took place on Smithills Moor and Burnt Edge. (An appropriate location perhaps, given the reason for the exercise)

In planning this exercise GMFRS Nigel Booth has been involved in a number of planning meetings with our team, principally with our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE and Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon

The team assembled for 09.30hrs at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ awaiting the exercise call out message from GMFRS.

With cloudy skies, light rainfall and temperatures hovering around 13c it took a little imagination to think of moorland fires and sizzling summer temperatures, but the rain did stop and the sun came out as we were mobilised at 10.00hrs to the Fire Control and holding point at the junction of Scout Road and Smithills Dean Road, Bolton.

Setting up our own Control Trailer alongside the Fire Control was the first task on Scout Road, whilst our Catering Trailer was set up on Smithills Dean Road alongside the first responding fire appliances.

As the exercise unfolded a number of ‘moorland fires’ were reported in the general area of Smithills Moor and Burnt Edge, with team members providing moorland navigation assistance to parties of fire fighters, and the team providing transport assistance to fire fighter parties alongside GMFRS vehicle resources.

We also provided real time mapping assistance, local knowledge, mapping support, and communications support.

Our ‘control’ was co-ordinated by our Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon and very experienced team member Mike Marsh.

With ‘exercise injects’ inputted by the GMFRS organisers and GMFRS Training team, besides the ‘fires’ there were taskings to find two ‘walking wounded’ female exercise casualties in one location, for which we deployed our Mountain Rescue Trailing Dog, and another to a male ‘exercise casualty’ with a leg injury who required a stretcher evacuation by a joint GMFRS / Bolton MRT party.

By 13.00hrs the exercise was nearing completion with all objectives met, with the team standing down from the exercise just after 14.00hrs.

The team would like to thank GMFRS for the invitation to attend this exercise, which has once again provided an excellent opportunity for both services present to better understand what each can contribute to incidents by way of multi agency working.

Our Support Group did a fantastic job keeping all involved fed (Bacon and Sausage Barms) and watered, also offering vegetarian options from our Catering Trailer, alongside catering support from the Salvation Army (Who in the later stages of the exercise were called away to an operational incident)

Thanks are expressed to the many owners of local moorland farms who kindly gave both ourselves and GMFRS permission to use their farm yards as vehicle turn around points and parking locations.

The following resources were involved in this exercise;

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; Four Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances, one Minibus, Catering Trailer Unit, Control Trailer Unit, 21x Call Out list members including SARDA Wales / Bolton MRT Trailing Dog handler Steve Nelson and Search Dog Boris, and 4x Support Group members. (Iain Clarkson, Sarah Hindle, Amanda Strickleton and Laura Tunnicliffe)
  • Salvation Army; One Emergency Unit (Catering) vehicle, two crew.
  • Exercise casualties; Two members of the GMFRS Community Volunteers, and Michael Egan, aged 18, a Scout from 25th Bolton Scout Group.
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; On duty ‘White Watch’ resources including the following Water / Ladder Pump Appliances, (And their respective Fire Stations) W51 Bolton North, W56 Atherton, W52 Horwich, W53 and W531 Farnworth, W581 Salford, W591 Broughton, W50 and W501 Bolton Central. 1x Pinzgauer Specialist AWD Water / Pump Appliance from Bolton North, 1x Operational Support Unit W569 Atherton.
  • Designated GMFRS Officers included a Safety Officer, Logistics Officer, Operational Assurance Officer, Operations Commander and an Incident Commander.

(For details of a similar moorland wildlife exercise, this time with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, please see website ‘news’ report dated Tuesday 29th May 2012.)