Published 16th November 2016, 11:57am
As a popular tourist destination, the Cayman Islands has many high-occupancy high-rises, each of which can present individual challenges to emergency responders in a crisis.
To prepare for just such an incident, the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) recently held a full scale fire training exercise, and reviewed all fire strategies and tactics on how to react when a high-rise emergency occurs.
Chief Fire Officer David Hails said “operation up close and personal” was a success for his department, as a group of firefighters completed the training exercise at the Kimpton Seafire Resort last week.
Chief Hails explained the purpose of the exercise was for fire officers to get familiar with the hotel’s fire safety systems and strategies, and test high-rise procedures under realistic conditions. He said the fire officers are already trained in this procedure, but feels it’s good to test their skills whenever the opportunity arises.
“High-rise buildings can pose a particular problem for firefighters,” Chief Hails said. “You have the height of the building, you have to get the hoses and other equipment up there and form a forward command post near the operations. Then, you have to be able to carry out rescue and firefighting operations. It’s very dynamic and takes a great team effort.”
The exercise started with sounding the alarm and clearing everyone out of the building in a safe and timely fashion. During the drill firefighters practiced proper protocol, created an evacuation plan, deployed the proper type of equipment, set up an incident command system, all while using effective communication to complete the rescue mission.
The exercise scenario was that a fire had started in a room on the fourth floor, and then spread to the adjoining room. These rooms were occupied by a total of five guests. Hotel staff was unaware of the occupants’ location at this point and no contact had been made with them, so it was first assumed that the guests were in their rooms.
During the exercise firefighters determined that there were only two people unaccounted for and later the three guests from one of the rooms showed up at the hotel and checked in with a staff member.
Chief Hails said the two-hour exercise was particularly useful for testing logistics, communications, and physical abilities, while providing an experience of what it would be like to use the plans and procedures in a real event. He said as part of the Ministry of Home Affairs our sole intent is to Make Cayman Better.
“This type of hands-on training is very effective because it gives them valuable insight into what it takes, how to overcome any challenges and that in turn builds morale,” Chief Hails added. “I would also like to thank the off duty fire officers who reported for duty when we put the call out for more personnel. Their assistance was much appreciated.”