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It was not signalling a major fire, but marking the culmination of three months' planning for a Fire and Emergency NZ annual brigade level training exercise for local volunteer brigades.
First on the scene was the SFF's own emergency response team, closely followed by three appliances from the Balclutha, Kaitangata and Kaka Point brigades, plus a Rural Fire tanker and Fenz support vehicle.
Kaitangata brigade senior station officer and exercise co-ordinator Anthony Dunne said the plan was to bring together all the local brigades to fight a notional fire somewhere deep inside the complex.
"The crews responded to the call-out and when they arrived found they were looking for three injured workers trapped in a smoke-filled section of the complex," he said.
Two of the missing were reportedly unconscious and one was in distress, in an area under construction and surrounded by multiple hazards.
But first the teams had to find the victims and the seat of the fire.
With the SFF ERT co-ordinating the search, teams scoured the building until the source of the blaze and the victims were found in a back room on the first floor.
The plant is not working due to seasonal and renovation requirements and it meant many dark and tiny areas had to be searched to locate the area where the internal alarm had gone off.
Clambering up and down narrow smoke filled stairwells, past numerous hazards, the crews eventually found the three victims and aided in their recovery, while fighting the "fire".
"The outcome today was really, really good as we had a great response from the teams.
"We intermingled the stations on to different appliances, so that we weren't all in our normal call-out teams and everyone had to learn to work with others of different skills levels," Mr Dunne said.
"Our response team worked really well with the other brigades and everyone learned lessons from this, their annual fire training exercise.
"Despite some stumbling blocks, the crews eventually found everyone and put the fire out for a good end to the exercise," she said.
Mr Dunne said lessons were learned by all participants and the training notes will be reviewed over the coming weeks to see how they can fine-tune the skills at each brigade.
- By John Cosgrove