A PIONEERING six storey tower has been erected in Oldbury to help firefighters train to fight high rise blazes.

The tower, which is the first of its kind in the world, has been built at Oldbury Fire Station using 18 inter-locking metal containers.

Firefighters from across Europe will use the tower to simulate tackling fires in residential tower blocks which are the most difficult blazes to contain.

Watch commander Dave Payton said: "We needed to get a facility which could realistically simulate the conditions that firefighters get in high rises.

"The only way we can do that is have a building which is high and its not just putting the fires out which is important but is the command and control structure as well as the creation of bridgeheads and stairwells."

The tower will help train firefighters to fight fires, and to understand fire behaviour, in multi-storey residential and commercial premises. Instructors will be able to set fires in controlled conditions whilst changing important factors such as ventilation and wind speed.

The tower will be operational by April 2014, following the installation of wiring, internal and external stairs, a high-tech control room, extensive burn testing and instructor familiarisation.

Group commander Nigel Snowden said: "It is a very technical building, it has its own dedicated control room, which is operated by the breathing apparatus instruction team which has an in depth knowledge of fire behaviour.

He added: "WMFS is committed to assertive fire fighting that means our ff will be able to get into buildings quicker extinguish fire which is safety for them and and the community."