Oil, wind and fire

Published:  10 July, 2013

A new $1.5m offshore emergency response training facility in Newcastle International Airport (UK) is now busy with its first intake of students – Hemming Fire finds out why Offshore Training Newcastle is already promising to be a success both nationally and internationally.

Facilities in the new 20,000 square-foot centre encompass a three-storey mock offshore platform rig with full-size heli-deck, helicopter simulator and internal structures similar to the real deal. Around 12 different simulated scenarios can be run including flange fires fed by kerosene. A full size survival centre offering helicopter safety and underwater escape training is also due to come on line in the next two months, in a location just a few miles away.

It is envisaged around 6,000 offshore workers will be trained every year in emergency fire fighting at the new facility, which is the result of a partnership of three North East England training organisations: AIS, Newcastle International Airport, and Maersk Training.

All three organisations bring a different set of skills into the mix, explains Paul Stonebanks, MD of AIS. Maersk Training focuses on offshore wind and maritime industries; Newcastle Airport has over 20 years’ experience in emergency response and aviation training; and AIS is an expert in offshore oil and gas training.

‘We were approached by Newcastle Airport because they wanted us to come in with our expertise in the offshore industry and help develop offshore fire fighting courses to the OPITO standard.  We have an existing arrangement with Maersk Training - they concentrate on training for the wind industry - and we suggested it would make sense to bring them in too, as the Maersk group have over 100,000 staff globally with training needs too.’

The business case for the new centre is based firmly on logistics. While oil and gas capital Aberdeen in Scotland has four offshore fire fighting training facilities there are very few training centres south of the Scottish border offering similar competencies. ‘The North East is a very industrial area with the right skills base for working off shore – the majority of work may have moved to Aberdeen but our research shows that there are nearly 35,000 people in this catchment area employed in that sector or looking to train for it.’ In addition, with direct air links to the Middle East served by Newcastle International Airport there is potential for overseas customers too, believes Paul Stonebanks, adding that his company is already in advanced talks with a major service provider for that area.

The courses attracting the most attention are the five-day Offshore Emergency Response Team Member, followed by the four-day Offshore Emergency Response Team Leader. ‘Roughly speaking a platform with 100 people would typically have around 25% trained in fire fighting to some degree. Apart from the constant drills taking place on board they are required to come back for a refresher course every three years to ensure their competency is maintained.’

In addition to the emergency response courses, OTN’s offerings will include OPITO BOSIET, Confined  Space & Rescue, Offshore Emergency Helideck Team Member, OPITO MIST, Wind Turbine Technical Training, and IRATA Rope Access Training.

In order to understand the physical and mental demands of the courses on offer many of the managers and directors of AIS undertook the Offshore Emergency Response Team Member course – including Paul Stonebanks himself. ‘It was exhausting! You can talk about it but until you’ve actually done it you can’t understand how intense it is. At times you are attacking the heart of the fire relying on the shield created by your colleagues – it is a real test of your strength and you have to work as a team. The feedback so far has been excellent and I feel that anybody doing this course will feel a lot more confident afterwards. I think it can really change a person.’

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Renka´s Fire Engine No. 1

Firefighting, fast, safe, everywhere. Michael Renka GmbH, based in Germany, is a manufacturer of firefighting vehicles, pumps and rescue equipment.

Waterax - We move water

Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments.

Big Water Flow for Industrial and Municipal Firefighting Applications

Protecting the lives of the public and firefighters while limiting the structural damage caused in large scale fires is our primary mission

We are committed to improving lives and doing business in the right way

We have a unique mix of capability and culture that we refer to as 3M Science and we strive to develop products that improve people’s daily lives in a multitude of ways.

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.