FIREFIGHTERS took part in a large training exercise held in Droitwich Spa.

Crews from Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) gathered at the town’s Chateau Impney hotel as part of a county-wide operation on Sunday, March 17.

The training exercise, known as Exercise Cerberus, took place at three separate locations across Worcestershire and was designed to test the service’s capability of responding to three challenging emergency incidents occurring within a short time span.

One of the simulated emergencies involved a mass contamination incident at conference facilities at the Chateau Impney. Guests at a wedding reception were said to have come into contact with an unknown white powder at the premises, and so firefighters wearing gas-tight chemical protection suits evacuated staff and guests, set up a decontamination tent on-site and worked to identify the nature of the powder.

The exercise ran from 10am until 4.30pm and was supported throughout by staff at the new fire control at service headquarters in Worcester, and by a command suite set up at the same location to help manage the simultaneous incidents.

Other similar training drills were held in Evesham and Tenbury Wells.

The service also used volunteers at the three locations to make each emergency as realistic as possible.

Group commander Rob Ball, who co-ordinated the exercise, said: “Exercise Cerberus was a complex operation involving large numbers of firefighters and fire appliances responding to serious emergency incidents at three separate sites. It took many months of planning but the hard work and commitment from all those involved helped make the exercise a true test of our operational preparedness and procedures.

“Initial feedback from the exercise has been extremely positive, with those participating taking away some important learning.”