Former residential complex The Maltings, off Hill Road South in Penwortham, Preston is being used for fire rescue training exercises.
The empty building, once home to over a hundred people, is due for demolition for future development and the owners (Places for People) have allowed Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service access to stage training simulations.
Penwortham Fire Station Crew Manager Graham Wignall, asked Places for People if the disused building could be used. Graham said “However experienced the individual or team, training remains a core activity throughout a firefighter’s career, since lives depend on the effectiveness of our incident response when a 999 call comes in.
“Maintaining and developing our skills and capability to deal with whatever emergency we might next be called upon to deal with is achieved from a combination of formal training sessions, de-briefs following incidents to feed back any learning points and regular drills and exercises.
“The more realistic we can make our training scenarios the better and given that some of the most challenging incidents we deal with are rescues from premises in multiple occupation, particularly when they have interior layouts of the extent and complexity of the Maltings, Places for People’s willingness to offer us the opportunity to stage training exercises there was an opportunity that could not be missed.”
“On Wednesday 6th March from 2pm we staged a training exercise on the Maltings site with eight fire engines, Mobile Fire Station and crews, enabling us to send firefighters wearing breathing apparatus into the building to conduct search and rescue operations in interior spaces smoke-logged with synthetic smoke.”
“Subsequently, we anticipate setting up another exercise once the date of the building demolition has been set. This would involve a number of fire engines and crews who will encounter smoke-logged conditions (using synthetic smoke) and the challenges posed by structural collapse.”
“We are immensely grateful to Places for People for their co-operation in making possible such a valuable and unique contribution to our training schedule and consequently, to the communities we serve.”
John Wright, Regional Development Manager at Places for People said, “We are very pleased that we are able to accommodate and assist the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in this way.
“They play a vital role in the community and we fully support anything that will help them perform their jobs more effectively.”
The Maltings is an apartment complex of 132 flats, managed by Places for People Housing Association and towards the end of its life was a location of concern for the local community. Anti social tenants
moved into the complex and in 2005 alone the police responded to 97 incidents at the complex, 29 anti social incidents, 32 crimes reported, 13 criminal damage and 8 violent offences. Lancashire Fire and Rescue attended 35 incidents in 2005, 9 actual fires and 24 malicious fire calls.
It was announced in 2012 that the building would be demolished and the site redeveloped for new homes. All residents living their were rehoused.