County Durham and Darlington fire and rescue service in partnership with Northumbrian Water have hosted a national exercise which tested capabilities to restore water to 50,000 homes due to a simulated treatment works failure.


The exercise named ‘Poseidon’ started with Northumbrian Water asking for urgent assistance in pumping a large volume of water from one reservoir to another.


A local fire and rescue incident management room was set up, supported by specialist fire and rescue teams from all over the UK and a strategic holding area sprang into action. On Wednesday September 18, the exercise tested deploying equipment, a large number of vehicles and personnel to Airy Holm and Derwent reservoirs.


High volume pumps [HVP] from County Durham and Darlington, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Scottish fire and rescue services along with the Highways agency were deployed into the reservoir. This was supported by a multi-agency response with partners including: Durham Constabulary, Environment Agency, RAF, The Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance and Rapid Response along with civil aircraft volunteers.


At one point an RAF chinook helicopter assisted in successfully lifting HVP modules into position around the reservoir.


Area manager Steve Wharton, CDDFRS head of emergency response commented: “This is an unique opportunity to test the response of the fire and rescue service both locally and nationally to ensure that we can efficiently and effectively deploy large numbers of resources, working in partnership to support our communities. The exercise was a great success and demonstrated the value of working collaboratively with partners.”


Brian Plemper, Water Network Analyst at Northumbrian Water, said: “It’s been a great experience hosting the training exercise at our reservoir with County Durham and Darlington fire and rescue service. Exercises like this allow us to make sure we are always fully prepared to respond effectively to any incident and in collaboration with our partners.”