Firefighters braved the chilly waters of Salford Quays today with a series of lifesaving training exercises designed to reduce the number of drownings.

The Water Rescue Unit of Greater Manchester Fire department were preparing for an anticipated increase in flooding in the area to help save lives in the water.

Warren Dore, the watch manager of the water incident unit at Blue Watch Eccles Fire station, said: “We’ve come down here so that the crew members who are qualified can practise and keep a hand in.

“And we’re here with some members of the technical team from the rescue unit in Leigh, who come as a support crew for water incidents.

“So, were familiarising them with our equipment and our procedures.”

The team were drafted in to Rotherham and Sheffield after the recent floods. Mr Dore said: “We were there for about eighteen hours before the other crews from Manchester came and we were there for four days assisting other crews with the floods.”

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In 2015, 321 people died in the UK due to accidental drowning,according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.  And eight people took their own lives via drowning in the North West, the National Water Safety forum (WAID) reported in 2018.

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Mr Dore stated: “We’ve had people in the water, either deliberately trying to kill themselves, or accidentally.

“People go swimming, they don’t realise the effect that cold water has. It’s five metres deep here and we’re not subsurface rescue. We save people on the surface or who are stuck. But, we have had two or three fatalities here.”

The exercises take place every four months, with the firefighters taking on the cold of the open water to get them ready for any potential flooding accidents or any potentially fatal water related incidents.

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