The Clutha Tragedy: Firefighters used lessons from Stockline

FORMER Strathclyde Fire Chief Brian Sweeney explains how lessons learned on previous major incidents enabled fire crews to respond quickly and professionally to the Clutha tragedy.

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FOLLOWING the Stockline Plastics Factory disaster in Maryhill in 2004, a great many lessons were learned and a great deal of planning and training was undertaken.

We quickly established a new training facility at our Hamilton HQ.

This facility was dedicated to urban search and rescue, specialising in the rescue of casualties from collapsed buildings.

The centre quickly earned a reputation as a centre of excellence and services throughout the UK, and from around the world, flocked here to train and to learn from our experience.

The staff named it the Grovepark Centre, in memory of the street on which Stockline had stood.

The level of technical expertise grew over the years and it would be fair to conclude that our organisation was widely regarded as one of the best prepared, in the world, to deal with these events.

The centre also became a haven for manufacturers of rescue equipment to trial their latest developments.

As a result, it also became a focal point for innovation and the creation of new techniques.

Over many years, our ability to prop, shore and stabilise collapsed buildings was enhanced and refined.

Our use of vibration detectors and sound monitoring equipment led industry developments.

We created new and innovative procedures to maximise the use of endoscopic cameras and heat-seeking, infra red, thermal imaging cameras.

In short, we were at the forefront of this area of expertise and, as I watched the images unfold on Friday night, I knew that we could not have been any better prepared.

From Cowcaddens to Calton, from Clydebank to Cumbernauld and from Easterhouse, Yorkhill and Springburn, all around the city, the first responding firefighters were experts in their field, specialists who, with the best equipment available, did all that they possibly could.

Their city, quite rightly, has every reason to be proud of them.

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