Fire and rescue services join forces for training exercise in Thetford Forest

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service host a national level High Volume Pump (HVP) exercise in Thetford Fo

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service host a national level High Volume Pump (HVP) exercise in Thetford Forest. Other fire services from Kent, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Durham and Darlington also attend the four day exercise along with volunteers from Norfolk and Suffolk Lowland Rescue and RAYNET. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Fire and rescue service teams from around the country have joined forces for a training exercise in Norfolk.

Pictured: Cheif Fire Officer Roy Harold.Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service host a national level High V

Pictured: Cheif Fire Officer Roy Harold.Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service host a national level High Volume Pump (HVP) exercise in Thetford Forest. Other fire services from Kent, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Durham and Darlington also attend the four day exercise along with volunteers from Norfolk and Suffolk Lowland Rescue and RAYNET. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The four-day high volume pump (HVP) exercise, named Triton 2, took place in Thetford Forest and was led by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), which keeps one of the country's 51 HVP units at Thetford fire station.

It was conducted alongside crews from Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Essex and Durham and Darlington, and other organisations including the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Responders and the National Police Air Service (NPAS).

In total around 200 emergency services staff and 150 people from the voluntary sector were involved in the exercise, which used the Forestry Commission's offices in Santon Downham as a base.

Roy Harold, chief fire officer for Norfolk, said Triton 2 was 'mainly a logistics exercise'.

'The harder and more realistic these tests are, the easier it is when you do if for a real incident.

'We're aiming for the people doing this exercise to be working really hard and be totally in the zone.'

Most Read

He added: 'Learning by your own mistakes is a lazy way to learn.'

During the exercise – meant to simulate a large scale forest fire – around 8km of hose from two HVPs were laid along the fire rides which criss-cross the forest, reaching from the Little Ouse River to two 'fire sites'.

The hoses can pump through eight tonnes of water per minute, with each length weighing around half a tonne when filled.

A crew from Thetford fire station attended the exercise with its HVP, which has 3km of hose.

Steve Collins, crew manager at the station, said: 'This exercise is about us working as part of a command system to get people in place.'

Ray Harcourt, wildlife advisor to NFRS, said: 'With a large scale incident, it is a case of the initial crews getting here as soon as possible and having an initial attack at the fire to stop it spreading, then thinking two or three days ahead to what equipment you may need.'

Of last year's forest fire in Thetford, which engulfed 30 acres, he said: 'The guys did a good job because they kept the fire to a relatively small area. The message from that is to carry on doing what we are doing, working closely with the Forestry Commission and utilities companies.'

The Triton 2 exercise was operating in tandem with a missing persons exercise, based at the St Helen's picnic area, involving voluntary organisations including Norfolk and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue, the 4x4 responders and RAYNET (radio amateurs' emergency network).

NFRS currently has vacancies at 24 of its fire stations and is looking for staff, retained or full time. It is particularly keen to employ more women, who account for only a small percentage of its 900 firefighters.

Anyone who is interested in joining the fire and rescue service can find out more at www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk where there are contact details for every fire station.