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CREWS FACE PANICKING CROWDS AND THICK SMOKE IN MAN CITY EXERCISE

PANICKING crowds and plumes of smoke faced firefighters and football ground staff in a dramatic training exercise at the Etihad Stadium.

Plans to deal with a large incident at the ground were put to the test on Sunday, September 30, when volunteers filled one of the stands and were engulfed in synthetic smoke to make training realistic for crews and club security.

Volunteers demonstrated acting skills by playing out a number of scenarios set for them by organisers. People feigned panic attacks, searched for lost loved ones and faked injuries.

Blackley Fire Station Manager Tony Bryan said: “We proved how difficult it is to contend with something like this by using just 100 volunteers but everyone did a fantastic job – both our firefighters and the club staff.

“While we only had a relatively small number in comparison to what the ground can hold, we had people circulate and stay in the synthetic smoke and we caused an issue for around 35 to 40 minutes.

“The volunteers also caused mayhem outside by trying to storm back into the ground to look for people, giving our staff an additional problem to deal with. I’d like to thank the volunteers for being so challenging and playing their role so well.

“We did a lot of things really well and will definitely learn something from this; we always do.”

The exercise simulated a football stadium fire, with numerous spectators unaccounted for following the evacuation to get out of the stadium, and involved around 10 crews of firefighters.

Volunteers from MCFC as well as GMFRS’ own volunteers and young people from the GMFRS Prince’s Trust scheme acted as the crowd.

Watch Manager Rick Sewell, from Philips Park Fire Station, said: “The exercise was realistic enough due to the synthetic smoke machines we used which completely smoke-logged the concourse and the stands just like it would in reality.

“We wanted to add some realism to the exercise so that crews attending would have a life-like situation to deal with – and the volunteers did a good job at creating that realism.

“I think some of the crews were surprised by the reaction from some of the fans but you just don’t know how people are going to react in these situations of panic so you have to be prepared for all eventualities.

“We had around 50 firefighters taking part in the exercise so there were a lot of logistics in planning the exercise which has taken months with lots of multi-agency planning.

“Exercises like this don’t happen all the time because we don’t often get the opportunity to use this kind of facility. But the club treated it just like a real match day to test their staff to – getting all their staff and stewards in. We had about 100 volunteers from G4S security and the club along with about 30 GMFRS volunteers.”

The exercise took six months of planning and also involved St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army, who would also be involved in a genuine incident.

 

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