Fire crews have received invaluable on-the-job training in Irvine’s high apartments as the five 14-story blocks await demolition.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service held another controlled fire simulation exercise in disused multi-story apartments at Doon Court last week – right next to where crews responded to the tragic Garnock Court fire which claimed the life of a resident 22 years ago.
Firefighters responded to the simulated fire in one of the apartments – with a series of surprises also planned to test the minds of responders as in real life unexpected incidents.
The recent drills, which will run through November, have seen firefighters training alongside Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service in disused parts of the 14-story block with crews in the apartments again throughout the Wednesday September 15.
This recent exercise involved more than 60 people, including emergency service workers and volunteers, in a role-playing simulation featuring artificial smoke pumped by smoke machines.
Residents were informed of the significant presence of emergency services around the buildings and surrounding areas.
Speaking to The Times, Area Commander Ian McMeekin said: “We’ve been doing these training exercises for a few weeks now. The North Ayrshire Council kindly allowed us to use the premises until the end of November.
“We obviously have training facilities locally and nationally, but doing training in the community and using different facilities is really appreciated. ”
Explaining the benefits of using an actual building for firefighters, Area Commander McMeeckin said:
skills, knowledge and understanding, putting them into practice and learning them in different ways.
“To actually have the opportunity to come and test our instant control systems, our breathing apparatus procedures and our research procedures in this realistic environment is really beneficial.
“Likewise, for local residents, it gives them the assurance that their services are being trained in their communities and that they are there for when they need them.
“It’s a tailor-made exercise. Overnight we used two floors to simulate low rise buildings, but today we will be using the whole building – this gives us the opportunity to test a range of procedures.
“Although it may be a high-rise building, some aspects of our training were not specific to a high-rise, although today’s exercise is and involves various systems of safety implemented and practiced in this realistic environment.
“Today we use a range of different tools with advanced control units and other breathing apparatus.
“We will have a level two incident with six devices and a level control unit.
“We will also have command officers with us.
“There will be a simulated compartment fire where we will test our breathing apparatus procedures, test our communications.
“We also want to test the interaction with residents to make sure they feel safe in their properties.
“We have a variety of proven procedures. What the team doesn’t know is that we have injections to test their decision-making.
“We also have injections to test their procedures and we’ll start to see additional devices come into play.
“Crews don’t know what they’re up against, so it’s really about their work in partnering up in their training and making sure they have the capacity to respond.
“All of this is in place without a local fire plan for North Ayrshire and one of our priorities is to make sure we are ready to meet local needs. ”
We reported last week that the five tall apartments appeared to be on their way to completion without imploding – the five 14-story blocks to be demolished floor by floor due to asbestos issues caused by machines and hands.
Work had been delayed due to the pandemic – resettlement of residents continuing until 2021.
Demolition plans for Fullarton’s high apartments, the concierge building and garages were validated earlier this month – but the start date for demolition has not yet been confirmed.
Heavy machinery will have to be used to gradually reduce the structure in height, with lighter machinery used once reduced to five floors.