Team assists Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service with some essential navigation training

This morning six Team Call Out list members met at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ at 09.00hrs to journey to the nearby GMFRS Bolton Central Fire Station to join with GMFRS Fire fighters to assist them with some essential navigation training and to also ‘sit in’ on some lectures regarding Wildfires and GPS use.

Involved were our Team Life Vice President Alan James, Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, Alistair Greenough, Chris Tennant, Martin Battersby and Nigel Booth (Who is a full time GMFRS Watch Commander at GMFRS Bolton North Fire Station)

They attended in two of our four Mountain Rescue Land Rover Ambulance vehicles and our brand new Incident Control Vehicle. (Which attracted much interest)

Arriving at GMFRS Bolton Central Fire Station at 09.30hrs our six were introduced to the organiser for the day; GMFRS Watch Commander Chris Rainford, of Red Watch, GMFRS Broughton Fire Station.

Present for the day were crews and Pump appliances from GMFRS Salford, GMFRS Broughton and GMFRS Bolton Central.

The days first session was primarily for the GMFRS personnel present, and consisted of an overview on the use of GPS handheld units as issued within GMFRS, namely the Garmin Etrex model.
This interesting session was presented by GMFRS Fire fighter John Hughes from GMFRS USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) with this mornings theory and use session later put to practice outdoors at the afternoons navigation exercise around Rivington Pike.

Next up was GMFRS Watch Commander Chris Rainford, (Who is also a Wildfire Officer within GMFRS) who gave all present an overview on wildfire fire fighting, techniques and terminology.

To some of the Bolton MRT members present, this was a similar session to that presented to the team membership on Wednesday 26th September 2012, by LFRS Officer Shaun Walton, an LFRS FOG Officer (Please see website ‘News’ report dated the same)

We all took away from informative session (GMFRS and BMRT alike) the three buzzwords of Wind / Aspect / Slope, to which can be added Fuel.
Chris covered such topics as wildfire prediction, windows of opportunity in dealing with the control of such fires, grading systems in use (F1, F2, F3) and the terminology (including Fire Head, Fire Line, Left and Right flanks) and fire types (Creeping, running, spotting being but a selection)

Following a tea and toast break, next up was our input, ably provided by Nigel Booth, who explained to the GMFRS personnel present the intricacies of the OS National Grid system, and how to take six, eight and ten figure grid references, and what such actually represents.

Short practical map reading exercises also featured during Nigels presentation, with our five other team members present lending their knowledge to the GMFRS personnel.

All GMFRS personnel present were also presented with an OS ten page overview training document covering intermediate navigation skills prepared originally for our team by team member at the time Dave Sarti, back in October 2002, and still totally applicable and relevant nowadays.

In a convoy of three GMFRS Pump appliances and a staff car, plus our three vehicles, we then all set off for a practical map reading and GPS exercise, based around the Rivington Pike and fringes of Rivington Moor area, commencing at 13.00hrs from the RVP on Georges Lane in the vicinity of Brown Hill.

We operated in four parties, with maps and routes kindly pre organised yesterday by Bolton MRT team member Alistair Greenhough who was present today.

By 14.15hrs the exercise was complete, and thankfully we departed just as the rain started.

This day was a great success, further helping to forge a greater understanding of how Bolton MRT (and other MRTs operating in Greater Manchester) can assist GMFRS, not just in regards to wildfires, but in other incidents as well.

Of course the greatest benefit of the day was to make new friends and links within GMFRS and vice versa between GMFRS and Bolton MRT.

Those present would like to thank GMFRS Watch Commander Chris Rainford for inviting us to participate in today, and the fire fighters present for their obvious interest in Bolton MRT.

And lastly ….. we all hope GMFRS were impressed by the ‘catering’ provided by us at the start of the outdoor exercise!