Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has recently held an exercise in Swindon to test its procedures should an incident happen underground.
A 2km stretch of sewer is currently being constructed in the West Swindon area, running between Paddington Drive and the Wichelstowe development.
Crews from Westlea fire station initially met with the site management to gain an overview of the project, which is likely to continue up until Christmas, and to better understand the challenges such a scheme presents.
From that, an exercise was planned and a briefing prepared for all fire crews in the Swindon area.
Watch Manager Paul Jarmey, from Westlea fire station, explained: “Barhale, the company building the sewer, have their own safe systems of work and their own emergency response arrangements, including specialist rescue teams. It therefore made sense to hold an exercise with them, so we could better understand how we would work together in the event of an incident.”
He added: “We could be called upon to help a casualty who is some 10m below ground and up to 110m along the tunnel. This is an environment that, thankfully, we don’t often encounter so it was hugely beneficial to work with Barhale and test our responses in an exercise scenario.”
Barhale recognise the importance of managing emergency evacuations and rescues from tunnels, making sure effective coordination with the emergency services is established.
Andy Dodman, Head of Health & Safety for Barhale, explained: “It is imperative our site rescue teams work closely with the fire and rescue services in the event of an emergency situation. Our site team welcomed the opportunity to work with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service and appreciated their support and assistance.”