Oundle hoses at the ready

29th November 2002 at 00:00
While the rest of the country is relying on the army to tackle blazes during the firefighters' strike, one public school has an alternative contingency plan. Oundle school, in Northamptonshire, has its own student fire-service unit, complete with fire engine.

Twelve sixth-formers, led by a local retained firefighter, are trained to operate the engine and to tackle burning buildings.

"The unit is on standby in case there is a fire in a school building," said David Harris, bursar at the pound;6,141-a-term boarding school. "They can point the hose at the fire, but can't enter burning buildings, because they're pupils."

Oundle has a rich tradition of extra-curricular activities for sixth-formers. As well as pursuits such as bellringing and croquet, students are given a choice between Combined Cadet Force service, adventure training, or fire and emergency work.

Members of the fire unit train regularly and are skilled at extinguishing dummy fires. They also practise using their fire engine, acquired earlier this year after it was retired from Cambridgeshire fire service. The engine is still fully functional: in fact the school beat a needy fire service in Ireland in the race to buy it.

The skills that the unit teaches, says Mr Harris, may prove useful during the current strike: "We have a retained fire service in Oundle, but they are largely manned by members of the Fire Brigades Union, so we're more likely to be called into service."

But Oundle Council's fire service is less enthusiastic aboutthe idea. "We encourage fire-safety education, but we don't advocate members of the public fighting fires themselves," said a spokesperson.

Local Focus, centre pages

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today