Immediate response, that’s what the training was for – this is a fire fighting capability at the pit. Hence the need to undertake ‘ in house ‘ training for the workforce. The culmination of this training was the annual fire fighting competition . This comprised of different team and individual disciplines and competitions separately for surface and underground workmen.
Of these, there were to two to capture the attention ;- the surface fire trailer team competition and the underground individual competition. Timed and judged by Fire Brigade Officers, the trailer, a powerful wheeled engine powered pump with associated suction and delivery baggings was swept forward by a four man team to a large water tank where two of the team rigged the suction baggings into the tank and connected them to the trailer. Meanwhile the third man would have connected and ran a delivery bagging out along with a two way connector. The fourth member throughout all this was priming and starting the pump to deliver water under full pressure along the first bagging. The first two men now race out with further delivery baggings and nozzles at pace. The ends of the baggings are rammed into the connector and the two men then run the baggings out in front of the advancing water pressure in the hose and with nozzles connected aim at a given target.
The whole excercise had to be timed perfectly, and for the spectators (day shift colliers going home) the prospect of a missed bagging connection and the effect of the threshing uncontrolled bagging drenching anybody within 20 yards was too good to be missed – the spectators often got a treat.
The undergound individual competition completed on the pit top over a simulated course was one of the toughest examinations of stamina and technique. Each competitor had to lug an extinguisher through a series of obstacles in limited space. any error and you were out of it, again the competition was absorbing. Entrants in all the competitions could expect either a soaking and certainly skinned knuckles to help maintain an effective fire fighting capability at the pit. Some of the competitors on the ‘60s were Brian Watts, Ronnie Beards, Dennis Rickwood, Alan Beards, Kenny Williams, Kenny Ball, Keith Walker, Micky Finn, and many others. Apologies if I have missed your name off!