Chichester Cathedral to host major fire service training exercise


West Sussex firefighters are set to carry out their biggest training exercise in several years at a prominent Chichester landmark.

On Monday 20 May a significant amount of smoke will be seen coming from Chichester Cathedral as fire crews simulate a major fire, as well as the rescue of a young person trapped inside.

Residents are invited to come along and watch the exercise unfold. Please note: The best viewing points will be found at the city cross (East Street side, in front of HSBC bank) and in front of the old House of Fraser building.

Throughout the exercise emergency services will immerse themselves in the training scenario and work together to resolve the mock incident. The aim is to test the emergency procedures that are currently in place for incidents involving the landmark.

Station Manager for Chichester Fire Station, Anton Mezzone, said: “Crews regularly train and prepare for incidents at fire stations, but being able to practice these skills with our partners in a realistic environment is the best way to test and improve our plans.

“Following on from the Notre-Dame fire in 2019, we looked at similar risks in the county. Since then, we have been learning about the challenges faced by our French colleagues and have adapted our operational plans; this exercise will reflect the changes that we have been making and allow us to put our new plans into action.

“We would love for people in the community to come along, watch the exercise and say hello. From my knowledge, there hasn’t been an exercise like this within the city for a long time, so it’s a great opportunity to come and see something unique.”

Tony Allen, Clerk of Works at Chichester Cathedral, added: “This exercise offers a valuable opportunity to trial emergency plans and procedures, ensuring the protection of Chichester’s historic Cathedral. We are grateful to all of those involved in the planning and delivery, including the team at the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and look forward to working with them on the day."

From 7pm until 11pm, there will be temporary road closures in place from the cathedral up to the canal basin. However, public transport will be running as normal.

The following road closures will be in place throughout the duration of the exercise:

Permanent road closures from 7pm until 11.30pm:

  • Junction of Canal Place and Canal Wharf, round to Basin Road (access to Kingsham Road)
  • Avenue De Chartres (westbound)
  • Basin road junction towards Kingsham Road
  • Bus station to Southgate (access only to Brampton Court Care Home, the rail station car park and Smith and Weston).

Temporary closures (expected until no later than 8pm):

  • Junction of Terminus Road (leading to railway)
  • Avenue De Chartres (eastbound)
  • South Street (access to the cross)

Thank you to SRL Traffic Systems who will be providing the variable messaging signs for this exercise.

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