Firefighters put derelict Northampton office block to good use in high-rise exercise

Belgrave House unlocked for the night to be the scene of 'major incident'

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 13th March 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 12:34 pm

One of Northampton's biggest eyesores was put to good use on Wednesday night as firefighters unlocked Belgrave House for a tall building training run.

The nine-story office block, which is attached to Greyfriars Shopping Centre in Northampton's town centre, has remained empty for more than six years despite plans to convert it into flats.

But Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue got the keys for the night to stage a practice run for a make-believe major incident in tandem with crews from neighbouring counties.

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Northants firefighters go through their drills at Belgrave House. Pictures: Jensen Houghton @JensenEmergency

Station commander Ashley Tugby said: "Our firefighters have to be ready to fight fires in all of these types of buildings, so we train and have processes in place to tackle them.

“Using real buildings in this way gives us an invaluable insight into tackling different types of fires in realistic surroundings so we are very grateful to Legal & General, the building’s owner, who have given us the opportunity to practise our tall building procedures in this way.”

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey added: “Fortunately we do not experience a great number of fires in high rises in Northamptonshire, but it has been fantastic to be able to practise some of our procedures in a realistic setting.

"I know this opportunity will have made our firefighters even more prepared for what they may face if the worst happens and we do suffer a fire in a tall building within this county. These types of training opportunities are so valuable to the work we do in keeping the public safe.”

Police and drone ground crew take a back seat
Firefighters go fully equipped to tackle incidents in high-rise buildings
Breathing equipment gets carefully checked before being used
The high-rise office block has been empty for years