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Firefighters carry out high-rise training exercise with partners

Firefighters descended on Southend City Centre as part of a training exercise to replicate an incident in a high-rise building.

Crews from Southend (two appliances plus and Aerial Ladder Platform), Leigh, Basildon, Shoeburyness, Rochford and Grays, Witham's Incident Command Unit and our Urban Search and Rescue attended.

Southend-on-Sea City Council, the University of Essex, Essex Police and the Red Cross were also part of Exercise Lego.

Crews were initially called to a kitchen fire at the "Lego" building – University of Essex accommodation in Southend.

It quickly escalated into a major incident with a number of occupants, played by Red Cross volunteers, trapped.

Firefighters used smoke hoods, smoke curtains and electronic fire survival boards and tested procedures in dealing with high rise incidents.

The exercise was organised by Station Manager Steve Byrne, National Operational Guidance Implementation Project Manager, and Watch Manager Scott Ford (Southend Fire Station).

Watch Manager Ford said: "It was a really useful exercise to test our procedures, equipment and communication.

"A big thank you to everyone who took part; particularly to Ryan Curtis, the University of Essex's Fire Safety Manager, who was key to making it happen.

"Thank you to our crews for giving it their all and to our Control teams who took the calls and were under a lot of pressure."

Rick Hylton, Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive, said: "It was a good opportunity to put in place new procedures, test new equipment and work with our partners.

"It was a great exercise and took a lot of planning and hard work. But that's why we train; to make sure we're ready to respond."

Ryan Curtis, the University of Essex's Fire Safety Manager, said it was a really good exercise and everyone involved learnt a huge amount.

He said: "Obviously we never want to be in this situation in real life, but exercises like this mean we're better equipped if something does happen."

Southend-on-Sea City Council provided resilience support, community safety officers and volunteers to help with the evacuation and safety of residents and oversaw road closures and traffic management.

Gary Cullen, resilience manager at Southend-on-Sea City Council, said: "The council played an important role in supporting emergency services.

"The resilience team play a vital role in coordinating the council’s response to a major incident and work with all blue light agencies, NHS, charities, and other local authorities to allow the council’s response to be coordinated, timely and appropriate."

WATCH: Exercise Lego: Rick Hylton, Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive, and Chris Parker, Director of Operations

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