Working in partnership with the fire service

An empty tower block was turned into a disaster scene by the emergency services for training.
Slough Borough Council offered the block called Tower House, in Chalvey, to the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to undertake training in the vacant building.

Tower House block is currently empty as the entire area is earmarked for a new affordable homes development. Subject to planning permission the area could see twice as many homes surrounding a pleasant green space. Martin O’Keefe, station manager for Slough and Langley Green watches, said the block was turned into a scenario where a fire had started on the seventh floor and spread upwards to the ninth floor. Around 30 firefighters from stations across the county including Slough and Langley, Reading and Maidenhead, were involved in the training. Firefighters were tasked with finding casualties in the ‘real-time’ exercise while wearing breathing apparatus and blindfolded to simulate the dark smoky conditions of toxic smoke in a real fire. As a result, firefighters had to feel their way around the flats with their feet and hands.
John Griffiths, service lead housing development and contracts, said offering the empty building to the emergency services was to help protect members of the public in the future and an example of how the council works closely with partners. He said: “It was an opportunity to assist our partner agencies to become better skilled in scenarios involving high rise buildings in our vacated tower block. “Ultimately, people will be safer as a result of these training exercises.”


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