Herts firefighters stage quake

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is joining forces with other services in the UK to stage an exercise to see how the UK would cope if it ever gets struck by a catastrophic earthquake.

Exercise Orion is a multi-agency international exercise which will see staged earthquakes hit several parts of the UK in September 2010.

It's aimed to test the UK's emergency response to large scale disasters and see how quickly foreign aid  will be able to be delivered.

1 million Euro's of funding has been granted by the European Union in order to undertake this exercise, which is also supported by Hampshire and Lincolnshire Fire Services, the Fire Service College and technisches Hilswerk, a German emergency response organisation.

Roy Wilsher, Hertfordshire's Chief Fire Officer told Heart:

"In recent years the number and severity of natural and manmade disasters has increased, with many instances in other countries overwhelming national response capacity, leading to requests for international assistance.

"The UK is very experienced at providing aid to other countries hit by disaster, but we've never had a situation where we have needed to request international assistance into the UK.

"This exercise will test every aspect of the response, from requesting assistance from the European Union Commission, the request for aid being actioned, the EU teams entering the UK and how the teams work together on the ground.

"This will be a huge challenge but there is an excellent team working on the project, each project lead is a specialist in their own field. Once the exercise is finished I hope that we will have tested our national response alongside an international response, and I'm sure that we will learn a lot of lessons, which will improve our resilience arrangements."

Exercise Orion will take place over four days starting on September 6th 2010.

Live exercises will be held at Ford Widley in Hampshire and in Merseyside, alongside simultaneous strategic Gold command exercises in Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Lincolnshire and Merseyside.

A short video all about Exercise Orion is available to watch at www.hertsdirect.org/fire