No need to panic, we haven’t had a real fire at the Apprentice House (perish the thought), but today the Quarry Bank team took part in our annual Salvage Operation Exercise. The scenario we were given by Ally was as follows:
“At 7.00 a.m. this morning a fire took hold in the Apprentice House staff office – this then spread via the corridor and to the Apprentice House kitchen displays. Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service (CF&RS) attended and extinguished the fire; however there is a large amount of water and smoke damage to neighbouring rooms. At the current time there is no access to much of the Apprentice House, whilst the safety of the affected areas is assessed. However access has been granted to the School Room, the Parlour, the Girls Dormitory and the Treatment Room.”
Every member of the team was assigned a specific role to recover the items in the collection, and the exercise was split into two parts:
“1. To allow CF&RS access to the site to consider how they would treat a fire in these areas, to gain familiarity with the building and to offer advice to the Quarry Bank team on evacuation and access.
2. To practise the salvage of collection items from the house using the scenario above and the general principles of the Quarry Bank Emergency Plan.”
Unfortunately CF&RS couldn’t make it after all, and so the focus of the exercise became purely about the salvage operation.
At about 10.30 all staff received the call to make their way up to the shelter at the Apprentice House.
All the proper procedures had to be followed and we had our Lead Ranger Simon standing by at the gate as Security Warden registering us all as we entered the yard, and our General Manager Eleanor as Entry Officer, recording who went in and out of the house.
Next we had to send our nominated driver with the Quarter Master, Head Gardener Sarah, to collect the kit from the salvage store in the village.
Once we had geared up in our high vis jackets and helmets, the salvage team headed into the house to start rescuing items, delivering them to the Collection Team. They recovered items from the school room, parlour and treatment room.
We then began the process of unpacking the items from their protective bubble wrap and assessed their condition before repacking and labelling up, and were helped by the occasional cat…
If this was not just a ‘practice run’ as it were the whole process would have taken much longer as we would have taken out every single item in all the accessible rooms.
The team was rewarded with tea and chocolate for a job well done and after we had carried everything back into the Apprentice House we made our way back to the office and the warmth as quickly as possible!
Just a quick note about our website – we have been renamed to just ‘Quarry Bank’ and this is our new URL: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank/