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Kent firefighters take part in tower block drill to tackle fires in high rises

North Kent firefighters have been back to college for a training
North Kent firefighters recently took part in a training exercise to learn tackling fires in high rise buildings
North Kent firefighters have been back to college for a training exercise to tackle blazes in high rise buildings.

Around 25 staff and four appliances were involved in the drill which simulated a fire and required the rescue of people trapped on the sixth floor of a special tower at Dartford's North West Kent College.

The practice is part of ongoing training taking place across the county to ensure that Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) crews are experienced and fully prepared for dealing with incidents in buildings of several floors.

Crews from Dartford, Swanscombe and Horton Kirby were involved. Dartford Station Manager Brett Egan said: "Exercises like this are a great opportunity for our staff to practise in a real life environment and the public should be reassured that they train so extensively and to such a high standard.

"However, we also want the community to take responsibility for their own safety and following the tragic fire at a tower block in London earlier this year, we are reiterating guidance for residents living in high rise blocks of flats, to help protect their homes and families."

Quentin Williamson, a spokesman for North West Kent College said: "The college exists to help with local training requirements so we have lent the fire brigade an accommodation block for several years now, so that firefighters can keep their skills up to date. Practical training often shows up weaknesses in procedures which could be fatal in a real emergency."

"Exercises like this are a great opportunity for our staff to practise in a real life environment, and the public should be reassured that they train so extensively and to such a high standard."

"The building in which you live has been designed with safety in mind," Brett Egan explains. "The walls, doors and floors are specially designed to resist fire and stop the spread of smoke but to do this, these doors need to be kept closed when they are not in use, especially those leading onto staircases."

Brett adds: "It is also a good idea to close your internal doors too when you retire for the night and turn off all electrical items not designed to stay on for long periods. Keep your escape routes inside and outside your flat clear of obstacles at all times."

Follow these tips if a fire breaks out in your flat (your smoke alarm should alert you!):

  • Don't open doors looking for the source of the fire
  • Alert everyone else and leave the flat, closing doors behind you
  • Don't stop to gather personal belongings
  • Don't use a balcony to escape unless it is part of the official escape route
  • Use the stairs to exit, never be tempted to use the lift
  • When you are out of the building, find a phone and call 999
  • Do not go back into the building until you have been told it is safe to do so

If a fire breaks out elsewhere in the building:

  • It will normally be safe for you to stay in your own flat
  • If your flat becomes affected by smoke, leave at once, closing windows and doors behind you
  • If you have to leave the building, use the staircase and never the lift
  • If you have to move through smoke, keep as low as possible where the air is fresher

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