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Rescue team to carry out training drill at Folkestone's Victorian Leas Lift

Rescue team to carry out training drill at Folkestone's Victorian Leas Lift

14 September 2016

Firefighters will be scaling the dizzy heights of Leas Cliff in Folkestone on Friday (16 September) to carry out a rescue drill at the historic Leas Lift.

The Leas Lift is a funicular railway dating back to 1885 which carries passengers up and down the cliff face between the promenade and the seafront by using water and gravity to power the lift cars.

The aim of the exercise - named Operation Cliffhanger -  is to test the operational response to an incident where the lift cars are stranded at a mid-point, away from the termini.

This will require the stabilisation of the lift car and the rescue of the passengers  - played by Kent Fire and Rescue Service volunteers - using a safe system of work. 

Firefighters from Folkestone and Dover will be taking part, as well as the specialist line-rescue team from Deal. In addition, an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) will also be used in the exercise.

Watch Manager John Howard said: “The scenario will present an interesting challenge for the crews involved and provide the chance to put our training in to practice at an unusual location.

We are grateful to the Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company for allow us use of the facility, which is one of the oldest water lifts in the country for this unique training opportunity.”

Terry Begent, Business Manager at Leas Lift, said “The likelihood of us having to call out Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) to rescue passengers for real is very small. There is no record of it happening during the lift’s 130 years of operation but it is good to prepare for all eventualities, so we are delighted to have this opportunity to work with KFRS to identify any potential problems in advance.

"I am sure it will be an interesting and informative day for all involved and we are grateful for all the work that Watch Manager John Howard has done to arrange the exercise.”

The Grade II listed Victorian Leas Lift was restored in 2011 and has carried over 50 million passengers.

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