Hebburn high rise building to be used for fire training exercises

Westmorland Court is due to be demolished.
Westmorland Court is due to be demolished.

A high rise building in Hebburn is to be used by firefighters for live training exercises in the wake of the Grenfell Fire tragedy.

Westmorland Court, which is due for demolition, will be the site of the exercise, which has been planned for over a year. Local residents will also be given the chance to learn more about fire safety.

The recent tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, West London has brought into sharp focus why this is type of exercise is so important

Chris Lowther

Chris Lowther, chief fire officer of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is a unique and valuable opportunity for firefighters to train in one of the most challenging and dangerous aspects of firefighting.

“The recent tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, West London has brought into sharp focus why this is type of exercise is so important.

“We have excellent training facilities at our service headquarters in Washington, but there is no substitute for training in a real environment.

“Our primary aim it to save lives in the event of fire, reducing risks to local people and to firefighters, and this opportunity will greatly assist with this.”

The training will take place over two weeks, starting on Monday, July 3.

It will run each midweek afternoon from about 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “We have been working for over a year with the fire service to agree an exercise at this location, which is earmarked for future demolition.

“This is a rare and valuable opportunity for fire fighters to enhance their skills and ensure the safety and protection of our communities.

“Sadly, the recent events in London have highlighted why the ability to train in real life environments such as Westmorland Court is so vital.

“It is also an excellent opportunity to engage with local people and raise awareness of fire safety issues.”

Following the firefighting training exercises, the site will be demolished to be redeveloped as part of the regeneration of Hebburn town centre.

The exercise has been put together through a partnership between South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

Residents and businesses should ensure that they continue to report any fire-related concerns – not connected to the exercise – through the appropriate emergency service channels.