Fire crews have received valuable on the ground training in Irvine’s high flats while the five 14-storey blocks await demolition.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service held another controlled fire simulation exercise in disused multi-storey flats at Doon Court last week – just along from where crews responded to the tragic Garnock Court blaze that took one resident’s life 22 years ago.

Fire crew responded to the simulated fire in one of the flats – with a set of surprises also planned to test responders wits like in real life unexpected incidents.

The recent exercises, which will run to November, have seen firefighters training alongside Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service in disused parts of the 14-story block with crews at the flats again throughout Wednesday, September 15.

This recent exercise involved more than 60 people, including emergency service workers and volunteers in role-play simulation including artificial smoke pumped out smoke machines.

Residents have been advised of the significant emergency service presence around the buildings and surrounding area. 

Speaking to the Times, Area Commander Ian McMeekin said: “We’ve been doing these training exercises now for a few weeks. North Ayrshire Council kindly enabled us to use the premises until the end of November.

“We obviously have training facilities locally and nationally but to get training in the community and to get to use different facilities is really appreciated.”

Explaining the benefits in using an actual building for fire officers, Area Commander McMeeckin said: “Going back to the training its all about

skills, knowledge and understanding, putting it into practice and learning it in different ways.

“To actually have the ability to come in to test our instant command systems, our breathing apparatus procedures and our search procedures in this realistic environment is really beneficial.

“Also for the local residents it gives them confidence that their services are training in their communities, and their for when they need them.

“This is a bespoke exercise. During night time we’ve been using two floors to simulate low rise buildings, but today we’ll be using the full building – it gives us a chance to test a range of procedures.

“While it might be a high rise building some of aspects of our training has not been specific to high rise, though today’s exercise is and involving various safe systems being put into work and in practise in that realistic environment.

“Today we are using a range of different tools with some round about forward control units and some using breathing apparatus.

“We’ll be having a level two incident with six appliances and level control unit.

“We will also have command officers with us as well.

“There will be a simulated compartment fire where we will test our breathing apparatus procedures, test our communications.

“We also want to test interacting with the residents to make sure they feel secure in their properties.

“We have varied tried and tested procedures. What the team don’t know is that we’ve got injects to test their decision-making.

“We’ve also got injects to test their procedures and we’ll start to see additional appliances then come into play.

“The crews don’t know what they’re facing so it’s really about their partnership work in their training and making sure they have the ability to respond.

“All of this is in place with out Local Fire Plan for North Ayrshire and one of our priorities is to make sure we are ready to respond to the local needs.”

We reported last week the five high flats look set to come to an un-implosive end – with the five 14-story blocks set to be torn down floor-by-floor due to asbestos concerns through machinery and hand.

Works had be delayed due to the pandemic – with the rehousing of residents continuing to run into 2021.

Plans to demolish the Fullarton high flats, concierge building, and garage lock-ups were validated earlier this month – but with the date for the demolition work to kick off yet to be confirmed.

Heavy machinery will need to be used to progressively reduce the structure down in height, with lighter gear used once reduced to five-storeys.