MORE than 50 firefighters fought through thick smoke to rescue trapped casualties as part of a simulated fire exercise in Carrington.

Exercise Shamen was organised by Stretford station manager, Ben Levy, and was designed to test firefighters’ breathing apparatus work and ability to coordinate under pressure.

Each Greater Manchester borough must carry out a large scale training day every 12 months and Exercise Shamen, which was held on January 12, was Trafford’s annual test.

Around 25 Community Action Team (CAT) members agreed to volunteer as casualties.

They were briefed at 12.30pm that they would be playing revellers who had been at a rave in a derelict office block in Carrington and had then started a fire to keep warm, which had subsequently got out of hand.

The nature of the exercise was designed to test the 10 fire crews’ ability to deal with casualties in an intoxicated state, who may be resistant to being rescued.

Crews were called at 1pm to reports of a fire with people potentially trapped inside, but upon arriving and determining the scale of the incident, further engines were called for.

Ten crews from across Greater Manchester were present at the height of the exercise.

Chris Toon, 24, is an apprentice at Stretford Fire Station and played a casualty in the exercise.

He said: “At first we were dancing to get into the role then when the smoke thickened up we were pretending to be injured.

“When the crews came they were banging on the walls and calling out asking if anyone was there.

“It’s good to be involved in these exercises. We could see how the firefighters were trying to assess the situation – three different people asked us to confirm whether anybody else was still in the building because they didn’t want to miss anyone.”

Station manager Levy said the day had been a great success.

“Exercises like this are important because we need to test and add to our command and control processes, see how effective we are at responding to a large scale incident and see how our command teams work together.

“Of course we can’t organise exercises like this without the help of local businesses, who kindly allow us to use their facilities.”