Firefighters evacuate Sunderland high rise as part of essential training exercise

TWFRS firefighters during an evacuation exercise at Amble Tower in Sunderland.

On Thursday March 10th, firefighters from Sunderland-based Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) Community Fire Stations, practised vital evacuation procedures at a residential high-rise building in the City.

Over thirty crew members performed essential training procedures at Amble Tower operated by the Gentoo Group.  These exercises are regularly played out throughout the region, and are a critical part of the Service’s armoury in light of the devastating Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Joe Haustead, Head of Community Safety, Development and Improvement at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“This exercise will hopefully reassure Gentoo and other Tyne and Wear residents who live in high-rise accommodation that the Fire Service is training for all eventualities that may occur in the region.

“We regularly work in partnership with housing associations, private landlords, local authorities and fellow blue light organisations to ensure that our training and fire safety regulations meet the required national standards.

“As we look to keep residents safe from harm, and let them know that we are learning, practising and delivering lifesaving procedures across Tyne and Wear.”

The one-hour exercise was played out in real-time from the mock TWFRS Fire Control emergency call through to the firefighters arriving at Amble Tower in their fire appliances, and using full breathing apparatus.

The ‘pretend’ evacuation didn’t involve actual residents, simulated fire or smoke. But the firefighters were under instruction to evacuate a number of people from certain floors using actual incident conditions.

Amble Tower consists of 97 apartments, and it forms part of seven residential towers at Lakeside in Sunderland.  There are 679 apartments in total across the series of high-rises buildings.

Stephen Flounders, Director of Risk and Assurance at Gentoo Group, said:

“The safety of our tenants is at the heart of everything we do here at Gentoo.  Our partnership with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service enables us to work together on exercises like this keep Sunderland’s residents safe in the event of any incidents.”