Firefighters in Dundee scale new training heights in partnership with Robertson Construction

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SFRS carried out line rescue training whilst familiarising themselves with the building in the event of any future incident

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It was all in a day’s work when local firefighters tackled a number of highly challenging rescues at the construction site of the new Harris Academy in Dundee recently.

Although performed under ‘live’ conditions, firefighters from both Blackness Road and Kingsway East Fire Station’s were in fact undertaking a series of functional exercises in partnership with Robertson Construction Tayside, the main contractor on the build.

Arriving at the site, firefighters were faced with a number of scenarios: a crush injury, a spinal injury at height using an Aerial Rescue Platform and a line (rope) rescue from the first and third floors. This included a set-up where two large concrete columns had been laid over a dummy and a rescue that necessitated a firefighter being lowered with the casualty off the building.

Fraser Tennant, Crew Manager of  White Watch, Blackness Road Fire Station, added: “The staff at Robertson were really helpful in getting us set up on-site. We had to work together to understand what processes they would be doing on the day to ensure that their activities could continue on site but that we would also have a clear area to carry out our exercise. 

“The feedback from the crews was that it was highly beneficial for them as it gave them an insight into something we don’t deal with every day. It also allowed us to work with crews from the Kingsway East Fire Station who are trained specifically in line (rope) rescues.

“We’re always looking for off-station locations to make demonstration exercises as realistic as possible. It was a great opportunity for us to provide an off station exercise where crews can put their training into action in a safe environment. The whole process has been really helpful for us and it gave the staff at Robertson Construction a chance to see how we operate; it has been a really good experience for everyone involved.”

Mark Dalziel, project manager at Robertson Construction Tayside, said: “For us it was an opportunity to provide Scottish Fire and Rescue Service with a clearer understanding of our construction site and the environment they would be facing should an incident occur. Internally that also involved discussions with subcontractors to ensure they were happy to work under unusual conditions to progress the build.”

The fire and rescue crews, who have been working closely with the Robertson site management team from an early stage of the construction process, have visited the site on two other occasions but this was the first time it had been used as a location for a training exercise.

As well as an initial walk-through detailing the different phases of construction and highlighting potential risks, the local fire and rescue service were also on-site to undertake a thorough risk assessment to identify the best access points and means of escape, as well as any hazardous materials being stored.