Former firefighter’s training mission takes him worldwide

By October 12, 2022News

DECADES of firefighting experience led former Station Manager John Lord to develop his
own training programmes which he delivers all over the world.

Last year his business SimTrainer UK converted an industrial unit at Pippin Bank, Bacup,
into a training facility providing space for theory learning and a facility to develop
simulation films of real-life incidents.

The business, which employs many existing and former firefighters as associate tutors,
was a finalist in the Small Business category of last year’s Rossendale Business Awards
and John won the Enterprising Person title.

Since then, SimTrainer has grown exponentially. It doubled its turnover in 2022 and is set
to double again in the next year thanks to a partnership with Manchester Airport to provide
practical training to firefighters from different airports.

Training, however, is only one of John’s passions – he is determined to spearhead a
change in the understanding of firefighters’ exposure to toxic substances.

He said: “I have lost so many of my friends and colleagues; the number is astronomical. I
personally have prostate cancer and have had nine operations over the last nine years. I
have also had four tumours removed from my thumb.

“Firefighters have a hugely elevated Class 1 cancer risk and not just to themselves, but
their partners and their children.”

As well as John’s own cancer, his partner Pam was diagnosed with a B Cell aggressive
lymphoma shortly after he left the service in 2011.

An independent report by UCLan Professor Anna Stec into minimising firefighters’
exposure to toxic fire effluents, on behalf of the Fire Brigade Union, in association with the
World Health Organisation is due for publication this month.

John said: “I applaud that this report has been carried out but the research is into local fire
authority firefighters, but I am also organising a national seminar in November at Cranfield
University, Bedford, into the transfer risks for aviation firefighters and the need to check air
quality.”

He is urging a greater understanding within the service about the risks of carcinogens and
an improvement in safer working practices.

John said: “We have a new generation of firefighters, women who are being given clothing
that has been designed for a man to wear not a woman. We need improvements into the
clothing to better protect the wearer.”

The business is family-run with John’s daughter Becky Suproniuk as Operations Manager
and her fiancée Michael Bradley is Digital Transformation Consultant while Pam keeps the
premises clean.

Covid and the lockdowns initially led the business to go quiet as airports were closed so
training subsided, however since August 2020 the business offered training digitally and
growth has not stopped.

They build bespoke simulator programmes and 20 have been provided for Heathrow, 26
for Fire Authorities, four for major refineries and two each for nuclear power plants and
universities along with other businesses.

John said: “It came as a shock to win the award. I take great pride that we are a small
Bacup firm that works with the biggest airport in the UK, the largest airport in the world and
one of the largest defence companies in the world.

“I know pretty much every Chief Fire Officer and early next year I will have spent 44 years
in fire and rescue; which I am quite proud of. People regard me as a person they can turn
to.”

The 13th Rossendale Business Awards opens for nominations on September 16 and the
celebration event will be held at The Ashcroft, Whitworth, on Wednesday, November 30th.

For more information visit https://r-awards.co.uk/

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