Firefighters Tested to the Limit at Bosley

The recent devastating events at a mill in Bosley, Cheshire, provide a stark reminder of the ultimate test facing our firefighters.

There continues to be much talk and debate about the changing role of firefighters and, particularly, the decreasing number of fires they are called to attend. This, in turn, fuels the ongoing debate about the shape of our fire and other emergency services in the years to come.

Bosley reminds us all that there are still occasions when our firefighters are asked to risk their lives in the most appalling of circumstances. In the case of Bosley, firefighters put their lives on the line to search the mill in an attempt to find mill workers trapped inside.

As we now know from the news reports, four workers tragically lost their lives at Bosley. Hainsworth offers its deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved.

As the incident unfolded, Paul Hancock, Chief Fire Officer of Cheshire, commended his “absolutely determined” search and rescue teams, adding: “The work they are doing is in a confined space – it is very cramped, it is very humid, it is dark, it is smoky.”

Fire crews at Bosley faced many different challenges, not least the need to manage heat stress. It is in intense, hostile, hot environments such as this that a firefighter’s training and the kit they wore comes into its own.

While the kit worn by the Bosley fire crews has to offer total thermal protection, it also has to offer flexibility, mobility and durability – all vitally important attributes when a firefighter finds himself in the kind of conditions described by Paul Hancock.

Thankfully, there are not as many Bosley-type incidents as there used to be, but the events of recent days remind us of the importance of the holistic approach to firefighting in which various parties including firefighters, garment manufacturers, textile innovators and standards committees work together.

In doing so, they are helping not just to protect our firefighters but also the communities they serve.

Blog by Simon Burnett-Boothroyd