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Firefighters respond to simulated chemical leak at Northfleet distribution centre

Firefighters respond to simulated chemical leak at Northfleet distribution centre

10 May 2016

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) will be called into action next week, (Wednesday, 18 May) as part of a training exercise to test how crews would respond to an incident involving a chemical leak at Lidl’s Distribution Centre in Crete Hall Road.

Around 20 firefighters, three fire engines (two from Thames-side and one from Swanscombe) will respond to the 999 call, along with KFRS’s UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), to provide an overview from the sky of what crews on the ground are facing and to assist in their assessment of the local area to carry out controlled ventilation. 

Organiser of the exercise, crew manager, Rob Parkin said: "The scenario unfolds after the alarm is raised following a malfunction in the Northfleet cold storage facility, resulting in hazardous vapours being released. This will trigger the site’s emergency response plan to be implemented, which includes evacuating the building of staff. However, after the roll call it becomes clear that a member of staff is unaccounted for." 

Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus initially carry out a snatch rescue of the simulated casualty, who has been overcome by fumes from the leaking chemical. Once safely outside, firefighters in specialist chemical protection suits will be sent to identify the chemical, using detection and monitoring equipment.

The exercise, which starts at 2pm and last around three hours, will see firefighters setting up an exclusion zone and blocking drains with special mats and poly booms. These act as a temporary floating barrier, to prevent the chemical contaminating the water supply.

Lidl's Head of Logistics, Stacy Copley, said: "The safety of our staff and operational facility is of the utmost importance to us, so its imperative that our emergency response plans are thoroughly tested. To be effective everyone needs to understand what their role is in an emergency situation. Carrying out this training exercise with KFRS is a valuable experience in preparing us to implement the plan in the unlikely event of an incident of this nature occurring."

Rob ended: "Whilst incidents of this nature are rare, we are extremely grateful to Lidl for providing this realistic training opportunity. It will allow us to test the response skills and tenacity of our firefighters to resolve and contain the situation safely, quickly and effectively."

Note to editors: 

  • Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend the exercise on Wednesday, 18 May at 2pm at Lidl’s Distribution Centre in Crete Hall Road, Northfleet

  • Please confirm your attendance with the KFRS Press Office on 01622 212425

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