Tyne and Wear is leading the way in life-saving training to help fire and rescue services across the country respond to collapsed buildings and major incidents.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have revealed they are the only Service in the entire country delivering the highly technical Hot Cutting Instructors course to instructors from other Services.
The technique is used to help Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams respond to incidents where they need to cut through thick steel such as armoured doors, girders and columns.
That could be a collapsed building, a disaster on a railway or another major incident where casualties are buried underneath materials that can’t be cut away conventionally.
TWFRS are delivering the course showing other instructors how to use petrol and oxygen torches that cut through the steel to create safe escape routes for those trapped casualties.
They led one of those three-day courses last week with representatives from Fire and Rescue Services all over the country travelling to their state-of-the-art training facility at their Barmston Training Centre.
Fellow instructors from Essex, Leicestershire, North Ireland, Hampshire and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services travelled to the North East to be trained in delivering the Hot Cutting course to their own staff.
The extremely specialised technique is only used by a handful of organisations nationally, but TWFRS are the only Service accredited to deliver the instructors’ course.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Manager for TWFRS, Martin Ward, said: ‘We host the training as when USAR was first established, TWFRS had a number of staff who had worked in the shipyards and had vast knowledge of this skill.
‘So when working groups were set up, we took the lead and have passed on this knowledge and experience down through the instructor line.
‘Thankfully disasters such as collapsed buildings are rare in this country, but you never know when this skill is required and we have used it in our responses in the past.
‘It’s great we are able to share this skill with other Fire and Rescue Services, we work extremely hard to keep our skills in tip-top shape and giving an insight to that standard allows all of our colleagues to do the same.
‘It’s an honour that we are the only Service in the country accredited to deliver this training and we hope that reassures residents in Tyne and Wear that some of the most competent firefighters in the world are right here on your doorstep.’
The instructor training consists of cutting through a variety of different thickness of sheet metal, tackling tricky nuts and bolts with the equipment and also delivering lectures and practical assessments throughout the course.
The participants also spend time practising how to bring down large pieces of steel safely to the ground using precise cuts and bends.
TWFRS are the only Fire and Rescue Service in the country that is able to deliver this training and do so on behalf of National Resilience.