Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has held a large scale emergency training exercise to test NIFRS operational ability to respond to a major incident involving a fire at a bulk fuel storage depot.
Over 40 Firefighters and 5 Fire Appliances, including Specialist Appliances from across Belfast and Northern Ireland, were involved in responding to the mock up major incident at the BP Oil Terminal in Belfast Harbour Estate. Partner agencies involved in the exercise included BP Oil, Belfast Harbour Estate, Harbour Police, Belfast City Airport and the British Red Cross.
A real life incident such as this would require NIFRS High Volume Pumping Appliances from Belfast, Omagh and Armagh to be deployed to the incident to provide additional water supply to an incident of this scale involving fuel. In particular this exercise tested NIFRS response, mobilisation and deployment of these Specialised Appliances and tested joint working arrangements with partner agencies.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said:
“Responding to a major fuel fire presents additional challenges for us as a fire and rescue service. Our three High Volume Pumping Appliances play a critical role in our operational Firefighting capability during these types of incidents with each Appliance enabling us to access an additional 7,000 litres of water, per minute, directly from open water sources or pressure water supplies.
“This simulated incident enabled us to test numerous operational policies and procedures in relation to deployment of our High Volume Pumping Appliances as well as our major incident plan. It also allowed us to test interoperability between partner agencies within the area and has helped enhance our capability in protecting our community.
“We are well prepared and well-rehearsed in readiness for these types of incidents, nonetheless this exercise was extremely valuable and there are learning points for all the agencies involved.
“I would like to thank BP Oil, Belfast Harbour Estate and all our partner agencies, for their co-operation and assistance in making the scenario as real life as possible”.
Mark Greenfield, BP Oil, said:
“Making sure we are well-organised and prepared for a possible incident at our site is extremely important. We are very grateful to NIFRS, Belfast Harbour and other agencies for their full participation in this exercise which we are sure will further improve our preparedness.”
Trevor Anderson, Operations Director, Belfast Harbour said:
“This is the second NIFRS training held in the Harbour Estate in recent weeks and we value our close partnership with all emergency services. Training exercises such as this are essential to ensure preparedness and we will continue to support all first response agencies where we can in this type of activity.”