Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) technical rescue firefighters completed Level 2 Trench Rescue and Confined Space training last week, enduring a series of physically demanding simulations. 

One simulation involved a trench collapse, with firefighters working against the clock to support collapsed walls and safely retrieve workers trapped beneath the dirt.

QFES Acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said the organisation was ‘leading the charge’ in technical rescue. 

“QFES Tech Rescue crews are world-class and are multi-disciplined with the ability to operate in a number of difficult roles in challenging environments,” Mr Wassing said. 

“Trench rescue is only one of the capabilities these specially trained firefighters operate in and it’s imperative we continue providing superior training facilities and controlled training environments to maintain a quality response.”

Mr Wassing said there had been several incidents in Queensland where workers have been trapped when the walls of the trench have collapsed.

“While trench collapses don’t occur often, it’s important we don’t become complacent in training firefighters to handle the difficult conditions,” he said. 

“It’s vital our firefighters have the skills and knowledge required to confidently respond to these incidents.” 

QFES Deputy Commissioner Mark Roche said firefighters were prepared for all types of emergencies that could arise in their communities, including trench rescue.

“It’s important we implement practical skills training so that we are appropriately prepared to respond to all types of emergencies efficiently and safely,” Mr Roche said. 

“The more challenging the rescue, the more important it is to simulate the appropriate skills.”

Mr Roche said there were multiple issues that could have a significant impact on how crews tackled a trench rescue. 

“It’s not always a straight-forward rescue, especially with the possibility of cave-ins, adverse weather and the potential for ruptured gas and water lines,” he said. 

“Firefighters need to consider excavation, soil classifications, sloughing, benching and timber shoring. 

“There’s a lot of manpower and knowledge involved and for that reason, trench rescue can be one of the most demanding rescues that firefighters respond to.”