UK fire and rescue services come to Avon for national exercise

A major exercise to test emergency resilience saw representatives from 16 fire and rescue services visiting Avon this weekend.

More than 120 firefighters from as far afield as Northern Ireland and Merseyside joined colleagues from Avon Fire & Rescue Service in three large scale exercises. In scenarios taking place at Avonmouth Docks and Chew Valley Lake crews put 13 High Volume Pumps through their paces.

Over the last few years High Volume Pumps (HVPs) have been provided to 46 fire and rescue services around the country as part of the Government’s national resilience programme. They are capable of pumping 7,000 litres of water per minute, and a pair could empty a full road tanker in just four minutes. The equipment was used extensively at Buncefield in 2005, during the flooding in Gloucestershire in 2007 and to pump water to the fire at the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare in 2008.

During the weekend the 13 pumps were used in three exercises. The first took place at Esso Holesmouth, Avonmouth, and was designed to rehearse emergency plans in the event of a major fire at the site. The HVPs were used to move dock water more than two kilometres where, in a real incident they would then be mixed with foam to tackle a fire.

A second exercise, which also took place on Saturday at Avonmouth , saw six HVPs pumping water from the docks for more than four kilometres.

A third scenario at Chew Valley Lake demonstrated the pumping ability of two HVPs in a scenario based around the failure of the reservoir’s banks. Although the exercise saw water pumped from the lake, it was then released back into the reservoir at a second point.

Group Manager Rob Davis from Avon Fire & Rescue Service said: “The aim of all three exercises is to rehearse our emergency plans for dealing with a large fire or the effects of wide scale flooding. All the exercises we have set up are worst case scenarios, designed to test fire and rescue crews to the highest level.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring together firefighters and equipment from all over the country to understand how we would all work together in the event of a major incident. The High Volume Pumps are exceptional pieces of equipment that can be used to quickly remove huge volumes of flood water or deliver large quantities of water on to a major fire.

“We are extremely grateful to Bristol Port Company, Bristol Water and all the agencies and businesses which have supported this exercise by providing us with access to their facilities.”