Eastleigh firefighters set to compete on the national stage

This week firefighters from across the country and beyond will be convening on the banks of the River Tyne to take part in the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation’s (UKRO) Festival of Rescue challenge.


15/09/2021 4:03pm


Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) headquarters in Eastleigh hosted the festival back in 2016 and this year they will be up against 24 other fire and rescue services venturing up to the North East, including a team from Luxembourg.

Eastleigh fire station crew manager, Alec Bowen said:

“UKRO is essential in providing a snapshot of many services approaches to the same challenges, an opportunity to share ideas and learn from our colleagues in a competitive environment as well as having a peer reviewed assessment of our own capabilities and performance.”

The HIWFRS Trauma Care team competing at a previous UKRO event

Representing HIWFRS, the team of six based at Eastleigh fire station are Technical Rope Level 3 qualified, and have been busy preparing for the Rope Rescue competition.

The rope team become involved in incidents that are beyond the usual operational scope for firefighters who are Level 2 trained. Their role is to support and enhance the HIWFRS response using their specialist mechanical systems, edge negotiation skills, or by climbing to reach casualties at incidents if the situation necessitates.

HIWFRS will also be competing in the trauma care and vehicle extrication challenges this weekend, with fire service teams also battling it out in water rescue and urban search and rescue specialist disciplines.

The HIWFRS Vehicle Extrication team

Alec, who is also the competition rope team manager continued:

We train regularly as part of our operational competencies, but also do regular additional training to practice and develop techniques for both competition and to trial equipment and methods for our Safe Working At Height operational response.”

“Aside from our normal technical rope training we’ve been focussing on the lessons learnt from previous UKROs.”

The rope rescue team have been busy preparing the challenge

In the shadow of the Tyne Bridge, the rope rescue team will be faced with six 90-minute simulated rescues and skillset tests, with awards presented to the best incident commanders and medics, as well as to the best teams.

Crew Manager Bowen added:

“As always there’s a sense of apprehension and excitement about the challenges we’ll face, however this will fade come the competition day and we’ll get to do something we love in a new challenging environment in a city that’s new to us too.

“We hope to be able to show not only the visitors but also competitors in other disciplines at the event that rope rescue is a mature and comprehensive technical rescue discipline, reinforcing the varied modern role that firefighters undertake.”

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin is the current Chair of UKRO, with former Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter, a patron for the organisation’s charity.

The competitions commence on the Newcastle Quayside and Gateshead, on Thursday (16 Sep), with the rope team getting underway the following day. The festival comes to an end on Saturday evening ahead of the closing ceremony and award presentations.

The HIWFRS Vehicle Extrication team competing at a previous UKRO event

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