Fire fighters practice high-rise rescue in BLG high-bay warehouse

March 23, 2016

BLG LOGISTICS made its high-bay warehouse facility in Bremen available one recent Sunday to the Volunteer Fire Departments of Verden and Achim and the Oldenburg Fire Department for a rescue exercise 38 meters up in the air. In one of the three high-bay blocks, 146 meters long, 70 meters wide and 42 meters high, the 16-member team of specialists responded to a simulated emergency as part of an ongoing-training exercise.

“There aren’t many places in the region where we can practice rescues from such a height,” said instructor Jens Warncke from the Verden Fire Department afterwards. “For our fall protection people, this was an excellent opportunity to test how our skills and technical equipment measure up in extreme situations.”

Organized in three teams, the fire fighters had to retrieve an injured dummy from one of the automatic stacking units 38 meters up and bring it to the ground safely – with care, and in a supine position. First, two fire fighters with emergency rescue backpacks climbed to the top platform of one of the automatic stacking units, secured by Y-type energy absorbers. Their task was to render first aid and secure the “injured person”, and to attach the safety rope for their teammates. “Normally, the main task would be completed at that point,” explained Jens Warncke. “Preferably, the nearest fire department’s high-rise rescue specialists would perform the rescue. However, in this exercise the fall protection people were allowed to use other means.”

The second team took up a position around 20 meters below the platform, while a third team formed the ground station. The task was how to lower the 75 kilogram dummy using a block and tackle. As the fire departments are not equipped with ascenders or descenders equal to the height, they had to combine three ropes and assemble a total of two block and tackle arrangements. The safe transfer of the stretcher from the upper to the lower block and tackle represented a particular challenge. After one and a half hours, the rescue was completed and the mission accomplished. “In a real emergency response, we would have worked faster and less elaborately. However, we also wanted to take advantage of this exercise to make the scenario as complex and technically demanding as possible. We succeeded in this, and are very pleased with what we achieved,” declared Jens Warncke, who observed the exercise from the bleachers for the subsequent critique and debriefing. Other fire fighters were on hand to observe the exercise as well.

On the BLG side, Britta Philipsen, Head of Operations in the high-bay warehouse, and Peter Wannagat from Engineering oversaw this high-rise rescue exercise. Both agreed: “We were happy to make our building available for this extraordinary scenario and support the fire departments. Even though our safety and personal security standards are extremely high, we now know that we can count on the local fire departments in the event of an emergency like this.” The scenario played out in the exercise fell into the category of “special above-/below-ground rescues”. BLG LOGISTICS possesses both the necessary equipment and the trained personnel necessary to safety lower a helpless person. However, specialists would have to be brought in if, for example, careful recumbent transport was necessary due to an accident.

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Chief instructor Jens Warncke in the team meeting
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Preparation for the rescue exercise in the BLG high-bay warehouse
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Rescue from height of 38 meters
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Secure transfer of the stretcher from the upper to the lower pulley
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After one and a half hours: rescue succeeded , objective achieved.
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