London Fire Brigade

Brigade sent to the Tower

19 January 2016

We will be staging a major multi-agency training exercise at the Tower of London today (Tuesday 19 January).

Over 70 firefighters and officers, eight fire engines, two fire rescue units and three Command Units will be at the scene of Exercise Tower Guardian, which is a fire based emergency.

The exercise at the world famous landmark, which is cared for by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, will also test the response of the iconic landmark's staff to an emergency at the site.

The Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and emergency planning officers from Tower Hamlet’s Council will also be taking part.

As well as increasing our firefighters' knowledge of the Tower of London site and testing how emergency service and palace staff work together at the scene, the exercise is an opportunity for us to test our response to fires and other emergencies at historic and listed buildings.

Salvaging priceless artefacts

London is home to around 40,000 listed buildings, 2,000 of which are Grade 1 or Grade 2 listed, as well as 1,000 conservation areas and four UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Tower of London.

Due to their construction and layout, fire can spread more quickly in some historic buildings which means our crews  need to adopt different operational tactics when tackling these blazes.

The exercise will allow the Brigade and Historic Royal Palaces to test procedures developed by our Fire Safety Heritage team for damage control and the salvage of priceless artefacts and collections.

Historic Royal Palaces has salvage teams based at its sites across London who regularly train for this type of scenario, and the team based at Hampton Court Palace recently assisted with the devastating fire at nearby National Trust property, Clandon Park.

'Unique opportunity'

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "Like all modern fire and rescue services we train regularly to prepare for a wide range of emergencies but this exercise provides us with a unique opportunity to train with our partners at one of the capital's most famous landmarks.

"London is home to an outstanding historic and architectural heritage so it is vital that the Brigade, our emergency service partners and staff in the buildings themselves, have robust plans in place to protect that heritage if the worst happens."

Testing the Tower's procedures

Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, commented: "Whilst we have a range of fire safety and prevention measures in place, it is vital that we are fully prepared to respond, should an incident take place.

"Training exercises like this represent a valuable opportunity to practice our evacuation and salvage procedures, working with the emergency services."

First major exercise of Brigade’s 150th anniversary year

Tuesday's major exercise at the historic Tower of London is the first high-profile training event for the Brigade in a year which sees it mark its 150th anniversary.

Exercise Tower Guardian is part of a programme of multi-agency exercises required by law and is not in response to any specific threat

The exercise will take place from around 12.45pm on Tuesday, 19 January and will finish at around 4.30pm.

For information about the Tower of London, contact the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 020 3166 6166 or email press@hrp.org.uk