PALMA fire fighters were back in training yesterday with the opening of Palma's new metro line less than six months away.
Son Fuster Vell metro station, at the entrance to the Son Castello industrial estate, was the location for the second tunnel fire training exercise in two weeks and over 50 members of the fire services, emergency services and police forces were involved. The first exercise involved a head-on collision in the Soller Tunnel, yesterday the disaster was a fire in one of the metro wagons with fire fighters using recently purchased heat seeking cameras and state-of-the-art breathing apparatus.

The station, which is still being built, was filled with smoke through which fire fighters had to reach the accident scene, lay down hose pipes to fight the flames and then remove a victim. This last task proved the most complicated because the victim had to be carried up the stairs on a stretcher.

Palma councillor for Transport and Safety, Alvaro Gijon, watched the exercise and said that the 23 minutes it took the fire fighters to respond and deal with the simulated fire will have to be improved on. “The principal aim of these exercises is to enable the fire fighters to confront the kinds of problems and hurdles they are going to come against in the event of the real thing and to find solutions at this early stage,” he said. Palma fire chief Manuel Nieto was also on site and he praised the use of the new breathing apparatus, which provide fire fighters with a maximum of four hours of air, and the heat seeking camera which not only detects under ground fires but also victims trapped in low visibility.

Nieto added that, at a cost of two million euros to the city council, a total of 50 Palma fire fighters have been on special tunnel fire training courses on the mainland and that they are fully prepared to deal with an incident of this kind.