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New heights for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has invested in new cutting edge equipment and training to improve how crews carry out rescues from above and below the ground level.

The investment comes following an identified increase in the number of high structures, such as wind turbines. The equipment will allow firefighters to perform rescues in a safer and more effective way, while also providing enhanced integration with hazardous area response teams from the ambulance service, where rescues from height are required. 

The new training and equipment, which includes new kit and personal protective equipment, means crews can now respond to complex incidents involving working at height. While there are a number of methods to rescue people from height, usually involving ladders or specialist fire engines with aerial capability, sometimes these are not suitable and ropes are required. This could include rescues from tall structures, such as cranes, wind turbines or masts, or deep excavations like tunnels or from manholes, where we can lower or raise the casualty.

Wholetime crews from Huntingdon have received specialist training by in-house instructors, who themselves completed accredited training by external provider Outreach Rescue. To ensure these skills are maintained, training will be delivered against a recognised framework and an annual reaccreditation process.

Station Commander Stocker Standen and Watch Commander Steve Conway, who led the way with the implementation of the rope rescue capability, also achieved instructor accreditation. Throughout 2019 crews will build on their rescue capability skill set, specifically developing their expertise at bariatric rescues and utilising an arachnipod bridge System.

Station Commander Jamie Johnson, who oversaw the project, said: “Keeping up to date with the latest developments and technology is fundamental to ensuring we maintain operational excellence and deliver the most effective response at incidents.

“The new rope rescue capability is a fantastic step forward for the Service and will enable us to respond to challenging incidents, while ensuring the safety of our staff remains a priority.

“Our staff have worked incredibly hard as part of the rescue capability project and we’re really pleased with the outcome. The crews involved in training have also shown real commitment to achieving their new skillset.”

woman firefighter hanging down from building on a rope