In 2005 work started on converting the breathing apparatus training block and ladder workshop at Hamilton Fire station into a dedicated Technical Rescue Training Centre. On this site a grain silo, rope rescue tower and a concrete trench were also constructed. The centre was needed as a result of 9/11, the London bombings and also the Stockline Plastics factory explosion. Under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 Fire and Rescue services were given funding to attend non fire emergencies, incidents which they had attended previously but were not given funding for, as this was now part of their statutory requirements.
At this site Strathclyde firefighters will be trained in Road Traffic Collisions, Trauma Management, Urban Search and Rescue, Rope Rescue, Confined Space/Trench Rescue and Water Rescue which will be done off site.
The Technical Rescue Training Centre is under the command of a Group Commander ‘B’ with a Deputy who is a Group Commander ‘A’ and there are six Watch Commander ‘B’s, one for each of the sections:- RTC, Trauma, USAR, Rope Rescue, Confined Space and Water Rescue.
The former BA building is where the USAR and Confined Space training is done. The building has three interconnected concrete tunnels one of which is only half a metre square. Concrete blocks can be slotted into the ends of the tunnels to allow practice at breaking and breeching concrete barriers and the tunnels can also be filled with rubble and to add realism plastic pipes are hidden in the rubble and used to convey sounds of breathing, heartbeats, mobile phones, watches ticking, moans and other signs of life which can be picked up by sensitive listening devices. The centre also has flexible cameras and cameras on long extending poles. This building also has a replica of a collapsed floor which is hinged to the top of the staircase. An extension has been added at the east end of the building, which is just three walls with no floors and this is used for practicing shoring up of collapsed buildings and the wooden shoring on the gable is straight out of the AFS drill book, still the best method of doing it. On the roof of this flat roofed building a pitched roof has been built for roof training. In the yard outside the building a pile of rubble has been dumped complete with a sewer pipe.
Rope Rescue is done on a 25 metre high tower. This is a standard drill tower built in modular form by Crofton Engineering of Cambridge so that when the TRTC moves to its new (unknown at present) location in four years all they need to build is the concrete base and dismantle the tower and then re erect it on the new site. It has struts at the rear and a platform and canopy on the top. The floor is in sections which can be lifted for practicing the raising and lowering of casualties. The structure actually looks like a guard tower at a POW camp. There is also a silo for combine rope/confined space rescue, which has a platform built round the inside from which the instructors can supervise the training. Firefighters can cut through the silo wall from outside or carry out a rescue from above using lines and harnesses. There are also anchor bolts on the roof of the USAR building for line rescue.
At the rear of the RTC block concrete trenches have been built at ground level for trench rescue practice and the walls have been built up with earth into a sort of mound so the trainees can stand above the trenches and look in.
The old Ladder store has been converted into classrooms where in the garage section the trainees are shown the techniques of extrication with a rescue board (this used to be called a spine board but that name was rather disturbing for the casualty) before going outside to practice cutting up a car and extricating the casualty. Also in this room line rescue techniques are taught before going up the tower or silo. Another room has a manikin in it, that has adjustable, pulse, heartbeat and breathing and here the trainees are trained in Trauma Management to a level below Paramedics as all 115 front line appliances are to get defibulators. There are a couple of lecture rooms with audio visual teaching aids.
There are two 5.5 metre rescue boats at Port Glasgow Fire Station which are used for Water Rescue training.



2007    SF06JYA    Ford Ranger                             SEV (Away)

2009    SF09SOJ     Vauxhall Movano Van             GPV
2009    EU09AAF    Ford Ranger                           OSU (away to Clydesmill Station 2011)



The Tower with concrete trench behind the struts.        100_8875               The grain silo                    100_8876                        20/10/2007

The rubble pile.                                    100_8877                                                        20/10/2007

The rubble pile.                                    100_8880                                                        20/10/2007


Grovepark the USAR building              100_8881                                                       20/10/2007


Technical Rescue Training Centre

Strathclyde’s technical rescue centre is one of the most advanced in the UK  
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service has designed and built a technical rescue training centre (TRTC) to meet its requirements in relation to the Fire Service (Scotland) Act, existing Health and Safety legislation and New Dimension/resilience.

The TRTC opened two years ago beside Strathclyde FRS headquarters in Hamilton, and fulfils the following training needs:
• Urban search and rescue
• Road traffic collision
•Trench rescue
• Confined space rescue
• Rope rescue
• Trauma training
• Boat rescue. 

The training centre uses existing buildings with enterprising use of construction materials and innovatively designed training rigs. The invaluable assistance of instructional staff to develop the project with the full cooperation of SFR’s management team, legal department, health and safety and property sections went a long way to ensure the centre’s success.
Each of the training rigs has been designed and developed by individuals who have a wealth of experience and skills in their specialist roles. Health and safety controls have been engineered into each training rig as opposed to being bolted on after construction, ensuring that the facility will continue to fulfil its purpose for the foreseeable future without the requirement for additional work.
The ‘Strategic Reserve’ strategy employed by SFR places a number of fire appliances on a reduced state of readiness during periods of the day that have been identified as low activity for emergency incidents, without depleting emergency cover provided to the public. Four appliances along with their crews attend the TRTC each day, enabling 20 firefighters to take part in high quality risk critical training without removing them from their operational role.
In addition to strategic reserve-dedicated courses, all of the rescue elements mentioned are carried out on a regular basis within the centre. All training carried out focuses on casualty care with trauma training being a main priority (First Person on Scene Intermediate level and First Aid at Work for support staff). Power Boat training to an advanced level is conducted from an outreach centre in the Clyde estuary. Senior Officer awareness courses are catered for in-house, with the exception of boat training and USAR Sector Command carried out at the mines rescue training facility in Fife.

The TRTC has ten instructors, all highly trained in their own sphere of technical rescue with teaching qualifications including:
• USAR trainer — basic tool skills
• USAR trainer —technician level
• USAR trainer — timber shoring
•Trench rescue—train the trainer
• Petrogen hot cutting
• Pre-hospital trauma life support (PHTLS)
• First aid at work (support staff)
• Confined space tunnel and shoring
• RYA principal (boat training coordinator). 

Success and Credibility
The success and credibility of the TRTC not only lies with the training rigs but the competence of the training staff to deliver relevant and realistic training to its students. The methods of training employed at the centre ensures that firefighters leave after attending a course with an understanding of rescue techniques and the skills, knowledge, and confidence in their own ability to safely carry out a specific task.
Since opening in January 2007, over 3,000 firefighters have passed through the doors of the TRTC. This applies to wholetime and Retained Duty System firefighters within Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service.
In addition to their main teaching role, instructors from the USAR section are on call to assist SFR Incident Investigation Research Section (IRIS) utilising their skills in timber shoring, making areas safe and allowing evidence gathering in places that previously may not have been accessible as a result of dangerous conditions.
The TRTC actively encourages collaboration with all other fire and rescue services in Scotland and other emergency services and agencies, such as The Mines Rescue Service, Strathclyde Police, Isle of Man FRS and Trossachs Search and Rescue Dog Team, creating a better working relationship through combined realistic training.
Training will continue with a commitment to the people of Strathclyde, whether resident or visitor, to provide a service at a level which they expect and deserve and to deal with any incident involving the requirement for technical rescue skills to assist in their safe recovery.
(FIRE magazine, January 2009. Page 38.)



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