Cambridgeshire firefighters take part in emergency training exercise... atop 60-metre high wind turbines at Stag’s Holt wind farm, near March
PUBLISHED: 08:30 15 December 2016
A wind farm near March hosted firefighters from across Cambridgeshire as they took part in one of the largest scale emergency training exercise conducted in the UK.
Hosted by energy supplier E.ON, the joint training exercise, organised by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service station commander Ady Slack, saw a crew scale to the top of two 60-metre high wind turbines at the Stag’s Holt wind farm, near March.
Generators were turned off throughout the training exercise with firefighters working to two different scenarios – the first involving a casualty stuck at the top of the turbine who had to be lowered out of a hatch on a special stretcher; the second, a casualty who had to be lowered down a vertical ladder inside the turbine using a harness. SC Slack said the idea behind training did not involve a fire scenario because in the event of a blaze, a firefighter would not be sent into a wind turbine because it was considered an ‘extreme danger zone’ due to the high voltage electrics and the structure itself.
Possible scenarios looked at included what would happen if CFRS was called upon to assist with incidents such as heart attacks, trappings, or simply a broken bone when workers are in the engineer’s department at the top, 60 metres in the air. Watch commander Jon Crowley said: “The main challenge was in terms of getting up. It was an arduous, long climb in our PPE (full personal protective equipment). “The other main difficulty once we were up there was it was very tight, cramped working conditions.”
The watch used E.ON’s ‘working at height’ equipment. Using a stretcher they lowered a weighted dummy down the outside of the wind turbine.
Firefighters also used their own harnesses and a scaffolding hook. They climbed the inside of the turbine using a fall arrest system to get to the top safely. This involved attaching themselves to a wire that runs up the middle of a ladder so that if anyone falls the rope snags, preventing a fall of more than a metre.