Firefighters stage major exercise at Port Solent

Cladding being taken off Horatia House in Somers Town Portsmouth

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Firefighters dressed in chemical suits to tackle simulated hazardous spillage at Port Solent today.

Alarms were set off at the David Lloyd fitness centre at around 11.30am in a pre-planned operation, aimed to test emergency procedures and give firefighters from across Portsmouth a chance to test their response skills.

The fire service exercise at Port Solent

The fire service exercise at Port Solent

Members using the club were evacuated, with a number of people wrapped in foil blankets as they emerged from the building.

Crew manager Ryan Matthews of Cosham fire station said: ‘David Lloyd have been brilliant in working with us and giving us the opportunity to work with them and their facility.

‘As a service, it has been excellent. We will go away and have a debrief and figure out what went right and what went wrong and see what we can do better next time. That is exactly the point of this sort of exercise.’

He said firefighters had been told they would be taking part in a training exercise, but were not forewarned of the nature of the incident.

Once the five fire engines and 20 firefighters arrived at the complex, they were told a member of staff had reported smelling chemicals coming from the plant room. Plans of the club were provided by staff, who had not been informed of the training session.

The scenario saw four people rescued safely from a room overcome by chloroform.

Andy Philip, operations manager for The Boardwalk at Port Solent, said the management will learn lessons from the morning’s events.

‘We can learn massively - the benefit has been big and the information gathering in terms of evacuation is important.’

Mr Philip said getting information to the fire service was slowed, and that is something the management could ‘definitely learn from’.

Members of the David Lloyd were able to enter the building again within 15 minutes of the alarms sounding.

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