buncefieldA major multi-agency emergency training exercise at the BP Hemel oil terminal located at the neighbouring site to Britain's largest peactime fire has illustrated the Services' ability to respond rapidly to a large-scale incident.

Exercise Titan was led by Hertfordshire FRS and involved 15 fire crews, including teams from three neighbouring counties, other emergency services, partner agencies and BP staff tackling a simulated scenario at Buncefield.

Herts' Director of Community Protection CFO Roy Wilsher, who was at the scene having helped tackle the original Buncefield blaze in December 2005, said: "I was very impressed with the response to this demanding exercise, which included an explosion, dealing with casualties and coping with a failed water supply.

"Everyone involved from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, BP and other blue light colleagues worked as a team to deal with the scenario, which started as a leak of 3.5 million litres of jet fuel from a tank and escalated."

Some 15 fire appliances were on scene, including the Command Support Unit and three high volume pumps and crews from neighbouring counties Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Also involved in the exercise, which took place on Thursday 5 June, were the Environment Agency, police counter-terrorism officers and volunteers from the Plymouth Brethren providing refreshments for the 100-plus participants.

Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, added: “I know we all hope that we never face another incident like the 2005 Buncefield fire, but if we did, training exercises like this ensure that Hertfordshire’s emergency response is the best it can be.”

The terminal reopened in April 2008 following an explosion and fire at the nearby Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd (HOSL) depot in December 2005 - the largest peacetime fire.

We will have a full feature on Exercise Titan, including additional photos & insight from CFO Roy Wilsher and exercise co-ordinator SM Bob Jackson, in the August edition of FIRE Magazine - click here to subscribe.