Edinburgh Trams may now have been running in the Scottish capital for five and a half years and now the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service recently visited Gogar Depot to put the theory of lifting a tram into practice. Although this was the first time the fire service had actually lifted a physical tram the two organisations had been working together since the line opened to ensure that if the worst happened the fire service would be prepared.
Speaking about the exercise, James McNeil, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Assistant Chief Officer, said: “The equipment and techniques used by firefighters as part of this exercise is unique in Scotland. The crews taking part come away from training with a better understanding of trams and gain vital skills that prepare them for responding to any real-life emergencies, such as an entrapment. We are really grateful to Edinburgh Trams for opening up their depot to our frontline personnel in the Capital.”
As part of the exercise firefighters first earthed the overhead power so they could work safely around the tram ahead of lifting. Airbags, jacks and blocks specifically designed for this purpose were used to lift the tram and after the exercise the crew also had to put the tram safely back onto the rails.
Colin Kerr, Head of Safety and Projects at Edinburgh Trams, said: “It’s important to us that as first responders to an incident, or in their day-to-day work, firefighters are able to either earth the overhead line or lift a tram quickly and safely. It’s been a real partnership process between Edinburgh Trams, our maintainers – Siemens and CAF and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. This has delivered a valuable training package, with all parties leading the way with best practice that can be shared with the light rail industry and will put us in good stead as work starts on the extension of the line to Newhaven.”
And SFRS Station Commander, William Pollard, added: “Collaborating with Edinburgh Trams over the past five years has given us a great opportunity to put our decision making to the test during a simulated rescue. This was a successful exercise and the crew involved demonstrated their technical expertise as they lifted and lowered the tram. Being able to work with a genuine tram has been incredibly effective and our learnings help us to protect the public, which is at the heart of what we do.”