Skip to content
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is playing host to a major European exercise this September. Funded by the European Union, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service will be taking part in a multi agency disaster exercise to test resilience and European partnership working.
Exercise Orion is being led by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service but the practical element is being hosted at Fort Widley in Hampshire from September 6 to September 10. It will be a simulated earthquake scenario with the epicentre under Fort Widely on Portsdown Hill, outside Portsmouth. This unlikely scenario has been selected to test parts of the UK’s national resilience and how international help might be incorporated in a catastrophic emergency.
Exercise Orion will test the UK’s response to this large-scale disaster to the limit, eventually exhausting some specialist aspects of UK capacity. At this point the Cabinet Office will activate an assistance request from other countries through the EU civil protection mechanism.
Countries that are sending teams to assist the UK for this exercise are Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. A further search and rescue team from the United Arab Emirates will also be participating.
Exercise Orion is a major exercise and despite every attempt by the organisers to minimise disruption, members of the public may experience delays along Portsdown Hill Road, outside Portsmouth, or see smoke clouds issuing from the fort. Please note that this is part of the exercise.
The main aims of the exercise are to:
Exercise Orion will also, for the first time, test England’s ability to receive, command and work alongside emergency response teams from other EU member states;
Day 1 Tuesday 7th September
9.40 am the Earthquake occurs with its epicentre under Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill
10 am - The Command structures are established
11 am - the first two UK USAR units arrive at the Strategic Holding Area (SHA)
11.30/12.00 am - The third and fourth UK USAR team arrives
Due to the combined needs of the UK incident an international assistance request is triggered
Day 2 Wednesday 8th September
Day 3 Thursday 9th September
Operations will continue through the day with Exercise Orion coming to an end at 1700.
In December 2008 a bid was made by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) for European Union (EU) funding to conduct an international exercise in the second half of 2010. Co signatories to the application included Lincolnshire FRS, Hampshire FRS, The Fire Service College, and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW).
Coordinating Communications for Exercise Orion is being led by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Senior Communications Officer, Lara Hejazi, email@example.com on 01992 555615.
The Hertfordshire team is being supported operationally by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Communications team, firstname.lastname@example.org on 023 8062 6812.
Members of the media wishing to attend Exercise Orion are asked to contact the Media team for media accreditation.
Photographs from Exercise Orion: