Hot on resilience

Published:  05 November, 2014

The Fire Service College (UK) and Training 4 Resilience have launched a new collaboration – plus The FSC has also launched a new mobile carbonaceous training unit. John Hall, training director for the College, and Beverley Osborne, senior partner from Training 4 Resilience, outline the exciting new developments.

The Fire Service College recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and we took the opportunity to take a look at what we did well, and where we thought that fire training needed a fresh set of tools. We’re very proud of our excellent record of delivering accredited and assessed training at our permanent facility at Moreton-in-Marsh – but we’re aware that sending team members for intense training programmes can be difficult, and prohibitively costly. We realised that we needed to find a way to deliver our training flexibly and locally.

As we reviewed our training facilities and services on offer, we put ourselves in the position of chief fire officers and tried to understand at how we could meet their training requirements. We spoke to several rural fire and rescue services, with teams of firefighters who rarely came across serious fires. These services often had limited training facilities available to them and even more limited budgets. The CFOs were concerned that their teams were missing out on key experiential training. Despite the talent and dedication of their teams, without regular experience and exposure to extreme fire conditions they were at risk of losing their edge. 

After a year of design and development, the Fire Service College launched its new Mobile Carbonaceous Training Unit (MCTU) at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham in September 2014. The new mobile simulator is designed to provide a cost-effective solution for services across the UK – and further afield – to give their teams training within real fire conditions.

The 23-tonne fire compartment and separate filtration unit contain a number of new innovations. The cutting-edge filtration unit uses ‘blast filtration’ to ensure minimal particulate emissions; enabling the unit to produce no black smoke, despite the intensity of the burn inside. The laminated insulation system, which contains the fire compartment enables us to produce upto 600 oC of extreme fire behaviour – while the external surfaces of the unit remain safe to touch. We’ve also installed a unique fire water retention unit, capturing the waste water produced during training and allowing for safe disposal at a later date. All of this allows for a simulation experience that can be run almost anywhere – without risk of environmental restrictions or safety concerns.

The training programme itself has been designed by the College’s team of fire professionals and is based on the requirements of our international client base. Working with different services, the team has been able to design and develop customised training programmes to meet the specific needs and risks that the firefighters may face. The unique construction of the simulator allows for huge flexibility. Different internal configurations enable the creation of a variety of training scenarios, and our team can simulate a wide range of extreme fire behaviour.

We feel that this meets the needs of Chief Fire Officers. For example, one of the rural services mentioned above could meet with College instructors to explain the specific requirements of their teams. Our instructional staff would then develop a customised programme, using techniques designed to address all appropriate competences detailed within the National Occupational Standards (UK), and fully accredited by Skills for Justice (a UK standard).

Once prepared, the design of the MCTU and its filtration unit means that it can be setup almost anywhere for example in a supermarket car park or school playground – without the normal environmental restrictions that can limit carbonaceous training activity.

Then, with limited downtime and minimal cost, large numbers of firefighters can be exposed to extreme fire conditions training. They can test new equipment, check their skills and regain their confidence in fighting real fires. The versatility of the unit means that the training can also become a powerful public relations tool; encouraging spectators from the local community will provide reassurance that their fire service is well prepared.

Senior fire service personnel will be reassured that they’ve done all they can to train their teams, and keep them safe; while firefighters will be confident that their skills are kept up to date. The MCTU has been designed to fill the gap between knowledge and experience for firefighters, and will become a key tool in the training arsenal of services across the country. It will make firefighters safer, minimise the risk to the public and allow fire chiefs to demonstrate that they have done all they can to provide ‘best practice’ training. 

School of Resilience and Emergency Response

Over the last few months, we’ve been working together to develop and launch a new collaboration – the School of Resilience and Emergency Response. Using the unique skillsets of both our organisations (Training 4 Resilience), we are aiming to deliver emergency planning and business continuity responsibility training which is assured, accredited and delivered by the most experienced trainers possible.

Most organisations are already aware of the importance of ensuring that their teams are as prepared for emergencies or other disruptive challenges as they can be. Each day, people at every level of different organisations face challenges that place the public, employees, property or reputations in danger – and developing strong organisational resilience is the most powerful tool available to minimise these risks.

As organisational resilience becomes a more high profile topic, there is an increasing expectation that businesses will have plans in place. Once an emergency incident has been resolved, pressure will fall on those in positions of responsibility to demonstrate that they were prepared for every eventuality.

This is where the School of Resilience and Emergency Response steps in. We intend for the School to become the benchmark of effective resilience planning; a trusted symbol showing that plans have been tested exhaustively and have performed well. Whether the audience is the public, your stakeholders or your investors, assurance from the School of Resilience and Emergency Response will give them confidence that they are in safe hands.

We are able to offer this assurance because of our credentials. Training 4 Resilience has been working over the past seven years to help organisations develop, measure and strengthen their resilience; and has built up an impressive expertise and varied client list. This includes Glastonbury Festival Ltd, the Tour de France and NATO’s recent summit in Cardiff. The school combines its skills and experience with the resources, reach and assurance of the Fire Service College, which has been training emergency responders for over 40 years.

Together, we’re bringing forward an offer which will provide companies with the assurance that they’ve worked with the best experts available to develop and validate their response plans, to coach their key emergency response decision makers, and to identify and deliver training requirements.

In particular, our scenario testing provides the opportunity to work with multiple agencies, organisations and stakeholders to deliver a holistic response to any potential emergency situation. This cross-party collaboration means that we can provide a detailed and thorough analysis of readiness, response capability and the suitability of emergency planning across any issue. This will ensure that – should the worst happen – staff in all roles will understand what they need to do, and how they need to do it.

We are supported in our efforts by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), as well as other delivery partners for specific training, including the College of Policing, National Ambulance Resilience Unit, and the Police Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre. Our latest customer – the London Borough of Sutton – is the most recent partner to work with us under the School of Resilience and Emergency Response brand; and we are looking forward to training and exercising its teams as part of its annual Borough Emergency Control Centre validation arrangements. As other clients come on board, we will be working to establish the School as a benchmark of resilience planning in the UK.

  • Operation Florian

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