The role of the Sellafield Fire and Rescue Service is different to that of your traditional county fire service.
Dominic Harrison, Sellafield Ltd’s Chief Fire Officer tells us more about the vast range of services provided by Sellafield’s emergency response team.
The role of the Sellafield service is much, much broader than dealing with fires. Thankfully, putting out fires is something the team have to do very infrequently, so much of their work relates to the ‘rescue’ element.
That’s not to say they’re not prepared for fires. Dominic says: “Due to the nature of our role, we have kit which would be the envy of any fire station, and many a fire service. Some of these items can only be found in Penrith or Kendal, and some can’t be found nearer than Manchester.”
Given that real life fires are a rare occurrence on the Sellafield site, much of the service’s time is spent on training and skills development. This ensures that they’re prepared to respond to the numerous unique hazards posed by our bespoke, specialist and complex facilities, on the crowded, cluttered site.
There are more than a thousand drills and exercises each year, and an increasing number of these involve the Fire and Rescue Service. Our work to enhance our resilience capabilities has also seen us purchase new equipment, and the teams all need to be familiar in how to use this effectively. In addition, the Sellafield reference accident has recently changed. Both of these have shaped how the team is resourced and operates.
Dominic says: “As Sellafield’s mission is changing, so is our role. So it’s important we ensure all our firefighters understand this and are fully trained. This means thoroughly testing new pieces of kit, understanding new plants and following new emergency arrangements.”
The service must respond promptly to plant emergencies – whatever these may be, so teams need to be familiar with the plant and its workings.
Ensuring our building, projects and operations meet fire safety legislation is another important part of the service’s role, and is one that is picked up by the Fire Safety team. Our role is to work as an internal regulator, ensuring we operate as we should. The team are trained to the same high standard as the external regulators and offers the same range of services to proactively ensure our people’s safety isn’t compromised.
Dominic adds: “The Sellafield Fire and Rescue Service is a multi-skilled team ready to respond to a range of emergencies, including fires – however uncommon they might be. We’re proud of the work we do, the support we give and the training we undertake, to ensure we deliver for Sellafield.”