London Fire Brigade

Exercise Fallen Sky - training with the RAF

30 March 2016

More than 100 firefighters teamed up with Royal Air Force Northolt for a training exercise at the former RAF base in Uxbridge on Monday (29 March).

Months in the planning, Exercise Fallen Sky was a valuable opportunity for our crews to practise their response to a military aircraft incident in a simulated but highly realistic environment with our partners from the armed forces.

A valuable opportunity to hone life saving skills

Working alongside specialist teams from RAF Northolt which are uniquely qualified in military aircraft rescue, the training scenario was a chance for members of both services to hone valuable life saving skills by rescuing passengers and crew from a real aircraft fuselage.

Twelve fire engines and other specialist vehicles took part in the drill and firefighters used specialist equipment such as breathing apparatus, cutting gear and thermal imaging cameras to rescue the 'casualties'.

With further support provided by London Ambulance Service, the Metropolitan Police and the London Borough of Hillingdon, the exercise was also an excellent opportunity for all the agencies involved to further improve the way they work together to respond to major incidents.

'You can’t get this experience from a text book'

Our Assistant Commissioner for Operational Response, Tom George, said: "Like all modern fire and rescue services we train regularly to prepare for a wide range of emergencies. 

"This exercise provided us with a unique and valuable opportunity to train in a realistic environment alongside our RAF partners and colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and the local authority.

"You can't get this sort of experience from a text book and testing our skills and procedures in this way is important to ensure we're always ready to respond alongside our partners in an effective and coordinated way."

'Training exercises like this are essential'

RAF Northolts Station Commander, Group Captain David Manning added: "Training exercises like this are essential to test our skills, preparedness and integration with the civil organisations in the highly unlikely event of an aviation or other major incident. 

"Both the RAF Northolt and London Fire Brigade teams performed impressively today and, as usual, with these complex exercises there were some valuable learning points for us all."

The Exercise Fallen Sky training scenario was not terrorist related and the exercise was not staged in response to any specific intelligence or threat.