Training exercise designed to test new marine fire-fighting service

A team of firefighters has been airlifted to a cross-Channel ferry this afternoon as part of a Coastguard training exercise.

The exercise started around 1530 when French-flagged Brittany ferry Mont Saint Michel reported a ‘fire’ onboard whilst on passage from Portsmouth to Caen, near the Nab Tower. At the request of Lee-on-Solent Coastguard, Hampshire Fire and Rescue officers scrambled a helicopter to take firefighters to the ship.

The exercise is designed to test and audit the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG), a new £3 million service funded by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Department for Transport.

Lee Fisher of Lee-on-Solent Coastguard said, ‘We’re delighted that Brittany Ferries have offered the Mont Saint Michel as a platform in order to test and exercise our local MIRG call out. The MIRG now forms an integral part of the UK’s search and rescue response. It will also have the airborne capacity to react to incidents anywhere in the country, not just at sea.’

MIRG comprises 15 Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) teams located around the country, each employing about 50 firefighters. Each team has been specially trained to tackle fire in the marine environment and is equipped with the lighter, more compact equipment required when traveling by helicopter. The teams will not only fight fires but also deal with chemical hazards and free trapped personnel.