Firefighters get training on evacuation alert systems

Firefighters from South Wales Fire & Rescue Service are getting hands-on training in evacuation alert systems following the installation of an Advanced EvacGo system at the Cardiff Gate Training and Development Centre.

The centre trains around 1,400 firefighters in a range of advanced facilities, including industrial and domestic training buildings, a multi-purpose climbing and abseiling tower, dedicated area for road traffic collision simulations, a confined space tunnel, rope rescue structure and areas for hazardous materials. Most recently the Centre opened a state-of-the-art Real Fire Training Facility (RFTF) enabling crews to undertake drills in a range of real-life scenarios – the first of its kind in Wales.

Facilities like this are essential for ensuring firefighters receive the best possible training to respond effectively to a wide range of emergency scenarios. The addition of an EvacGo now means that operational crews will be able to familiarise themselves with the operation of an evacuation alert system, ensuring they are able to use it successfully should they encounter one during the course of their work.

An evacuation alert system is vital to help fire and rescue services inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy during an incident. This gives fire crews an additional tool to use on the ground, alongside existing methods of evacuation.

EvacGo is compliant with the BS 8629 Code of Practice for the design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in England and Wales. Following amendments to Approved Document B of the Building Regulations, evacuation alert systems became mandatory in new residential high-rise buildings over 18m in England and Wales in December 2022. However, for all other new-build and retrofit projects, complying with BS 8629 is still seen as best practice and many building owners are choosing to install evacuation alert systems to keep their residents safe.

Station Manager Jason Lamport says, “I would like to personally thank Advanced for providing us with the EvacGo panel. These simple high-rise evacuation systems are a huge step forward in the future of tall and complex building fire safety.

“Secure alert systems, such as the EvacGo, will allow operational crews to evacuate residents floor by floor at an incident. These systems have already been installed in a number of high-rise buildings in Newport and Cardiff, with many more planned. As a service, familiarisation with these systems is paramount to their successful use and now, thanks to Advanced, we have the opportunity to give our crews and commanders realistic training on the latest high-rise technologies.”

Ken Bullock, Business Development Manager – Evacuation Alert Systems at Advanced, says, “I am delighted that the EvacGo training panel will help make communities in south Wales safer. Following the Grenfell Tower inquiry and the increased awareness of the importance of effective fire evacuation, we have seen a growing number of building owners choosing to install an EvacGo system, even in instances where it is not mandatory, so firefighters are increasingly likely to encounter them. It’s crucial that firefighters have an understanding of these systems before using them and Advanced has worked closely with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to accelerate this learning.”

All Advanced evacuation alert systems are custom manufactured to reflect each individual building’s evacuation zones and have been developed to provide a bespoke solution that allows the fire services to control evacuation floor by floor according to the severity and location of the fire. BS 8629 guidance states that the evacuation alert control system should be installed where a ‘stay put’ policy is in force, so that it can be used to facilitate a timely and ordered evacuation for all residents. An evacuation alert system is vital to help fire and rescue services inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy during an incident. This gives fire and rescue services an additional tool to use on the ground, alongside existing methods of evacuation. It must be standalone, with its only function being to assist fire and rescue services in the evacuation of the building.

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