Livv Housing Group’s Kirkby tower block hosts largest multi-service fire exercise

Livv Housing Group’s Kirkby tower block hosts largest multi-service fire exercise

Bringing together four of the North West’s fire and rescue services, a major training exercise recently took place at Livv Housing Group’s Gaywood Green tower block in Kirkby. The unoccupied high-rise blocks gave crews from Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester the opportunity to undertake live practise scenarios and work together with a coordinated approach.

Twelve fire appliances from across the four North West fire and rescue authorities descended on Gaywood Green on Broad Lane, Kirkby, with around 100 emergency service staff taking part in the four exercises which took place throughout the day.

Each exercise was led by a different service, with the support of the other three, where each one involved the simulation of a fire in Block 3 of Gaywood Green with actors posing as residents in need of evacuation. Crews from Cumbria Fire & Rescue also attended to support the exercise.

Twelve fire appliances from across the four North West FRS descend upon Livv’s unoccupied Gaywood Green

As local fire and rescue services often call upon neighbouring authorities for support, the multi pump exercises gave teams from across the region a real opportunity to test operational procedures and national guidance, evacuation methods and communication during a high rise fire. Fire services could also share learning and best practice.

Gaywood Green is thought to be the only empty high-rise building in the country being used by a fire service to undertake live practise scenarios.

Execises involved the simulation of a fire with actors posed as residents. Image by David J Colbran

Tony Cahill, Executive Director for Property at Livv Housing Group, said: “The safety and protection of our residents is of the upmost importance to us, which is why we are proud to be working in partnership with the fire services to help them prepare for high rise emergency incidents. We have been working with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service since 2018, initially starting with smaller-scale exercises at Gaywood Green.

“As their work has grown considerably in terms of reach, where they now undertake joint exercises with surrounding fire and rescue authorities, it’s really important that officers from across the region are able to experience training in a live high rise environment. It was great to see other fire services being able to bring their teams along in considerable numbers and the series of exercises will ensure that all crews are fully prepared in the event of a major high rise incident.”

Phil Byrne, Group Manager at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, commented: “While the risk of serious fire in a high rise building in Merseyside is low thanks in large part to our preventative work in the community, the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a constant reminder of what can happen when those risks become real.

“Exercises like this are vital and we are truly grateful to Livv Housing Group and the local community for giving us, and our fellow North West FRSs, the opportunity to carry out a large exercise in a realistic setting. All of our staff are trained in high rise procedure on a regular basis but being able to put their skills truly to the test in such challenging and realistic scenarios is paramount to ensuring we are all best equipped and prepared to deal with such incidents.”

Header image shows Livv’s Gary McEwen (Manager – Investment), Joe Williams (Building Safety Manager), Jacqui Campbell (Director – Assets) and Tony Cahill (Executive Director of Property) with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s Group Manager, Phil Byrne.

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