Firefighters get to burn house in cause of training

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ANYONE who notices a home going up in flames this week does not necessarily need to be alarmed.

Firefighters have been given permission to use a derelict house in Edenbridge Way in Park Gate for a week-long training exercise.

Firefighting crews from the Fareham area take part in a fire training excercise using a condemned house at Locks Heath.'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132178-3)

Firefighting crews from the Fareham area take part in a fire training excercise using a condemned house at Locks Heath.'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132178-3)

Yesterday crews from Fareham, Gosport and Cosham lit several small fires in the house, and they plan to escalate the scale of the exercises as the week goes on.

Wessex Demolition and Salvage is under contract to flatten the old house before five new homes are built on the site. But under a new arrangement with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, they have given the firefighters first crack at it.

Fareham station manager Paul Coates is leading the project, and said: ‘We have lost firefighters and there have been injuries in recent years. This is probably the best training we can do to overcome this and develop our skills. It is a live fire situation, but it is controlled.’

The service is hoping that through working with Wessex they will get up to 150 buildings a year to practise their skills on.

And it won’t just be homes, there will be industrial properties, school buildings and high-rises as well.

Mr Coates added: ‘With different types of building we’ll be able to practise other skills such as search and rescue, collapsed buildings, drill holes and abseiling.’

Jonathan Oliver works part-time for Wessex and is also a member of the retained fire crew at Portchester. He approached his bosses when he saw the property was scheduled for demolition.

Ashley Grant, contracts manager for Wessex, said: ‘It’s all about helping out the community.

‘Any opportunity we get, we will offer the building to Hampshire Fire and Rescue.’

Residents nearby were sent letters warning them about the exercise.