FIREFIGHTERS from stations across Bolton were faced with a
casualty trapped under a chemical container during a training
exercise at Lostock Water Treatment Works.
The exercise, which involved around 25 firefighters, took place
on Friday, January 17.
It was held to test Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services'
(GMFRS) procedures such as incident command, decontamination,
interagency response and breathing apparatus in a realistic
environment and allow firefighters to become familiar with the site
in case of a real emergency.
The site is a fully automated 180 mega litres per day water
treatment plant that treats water traveling from the Thirlmere
Reservoir in the Lake District before it enters the Manchester Ring
Firefighter Jason Martin, from Horwich Fire Station, said: "The
site poses many potential risks to firefighters due to the amounts
and types of chemicals used and the volume and demand of the water
it supplies is of great importance.
"So having some familiarity of the layout and liaising with
United Utilities was a huge benefit to everyone."
Crews arrived at the scene at around 10.15am where they were
faced with the scenario that a 1,000kg liquid chlorine container
The container had fallen from a height while materials were
being moved around a loading bay and the contents of the container
were leaking, giving off toxic fumes.
The area had been evacuated but a person was trapped underneath
the container and crews had to work quickly and safely to detect
the substance in order to protect the public and free the
Substances used at the Lostock site include pH correction,
flocculation, single stage high output rapid gravity filters (RGF),
chlorine gas disinfection and orthophosphoric acid dosing.
As the exercise got underway, a specialist GMFRS Hazard
Materials Officer attended and liaised with the officer in charge
of the incident as well as on-site staff from United Utilities.
The officer gave advice on how to safely deal with a chlorine
leak and this involved firefighters in gas tight chemical suits
entering the area and isolating the spill.
The firefighters ensured the leaking gas and fumes were
dispersed safely while another team of firefighters rescued the
trapped casualty using heavy lifting equipment to raise the
container off the ground.
The GMFRS decontamination unit was used and a full
decontamination area was set up.
North West Ambulance Service's HART (Hazardous Area Response
Team) were unable to attend as they had to respond to a real
incident but usually they would attend an incident of this
Jason added: "The training was a great success with lots of
learning opportunities for the crews that took part."