COLLEGE STATION — Ken Knight, Commissioner for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, will be arriving Thursday, Nov. 3, to tour the Texas Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Disaster City and meet with TEEX and Texas A&M University System officials over a four-day period.
More than 300 members of the London Fire Brigade have trained at Disaster City over the past two years, receiving a total of 30,600 hours of training and breaching through hundreds of tons of concrete and wood. The Brigade’s hands-on training sessions on Disaster City’s full-scale, collapsible structures have included heavy rescue, structural collapse, structural engineering systems and technical search.
After the July 7 terrorist attack on London’s mass transit system, Knight attributed his agency’s preparedness to the urban search and rescue training received in Texas at Disaster City during an internationally televised interview on CNN.
“We had taken the view that it was when rather than if and had a high level of training in place,” Knight said in the interview. “A number of our firefighters trained at Texas A&M for terrorist anti-terrorist activities and building collapse. We had taken new equipment and prepared ourselves sadly for this day, and this day was the reality of that training. Firefighters throughout London came through it well.”
The TEEX-London Fire Brigade training partnership is a result of the United Kingdom’s New Dimension Programme, one of the most ambitious fire and rescue programs ever undertaken by the country. After discussions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and an investigation of other training sites worldwide, United Kingdom officials selected TEEX to develop and provide a tailored structural collapse, search and logistics course at the agency’s renowned Disaster City.
In addition to the facility, U.K. officials were drawn to the expertise and real-world response experience of TEEX instructors and staff, who also serve as members of Texas Task Force 1. TEEX is the sponsoring agency of the Task Force, which has responded to the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, the Space Shuttle Columbia incident and most recently Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Knight became London Fire Brigade Commissioner in 2003 and has spent his life working in the fire service, including serving in leadership positions at several of England’s most prominent cities and being awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.
TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond. TEEX programs include fire, homeland security, law enforcement, public works, safety and health, search and rescue and technology transfer.