Press release

Operation Vertical Limit saw Essex firefighters practicing a large-scale rope rescue at Colchester’s Jumbo Water Tower

USAR Rope rescue exercise

Firefighters from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) along with colleagues from Essex Police and East of England Ambulance Service performed a large-scale rope rescue exercise at Colchester’s Jumbo Water Tower earlier this month.

The exercise involved the seamless coordination of crews from Urban Search and Rescue, Technical Rescue and partnering agencies to rescue four casualties, played by actors and mannequins on different levels of the 40.5m tower.        

This year, ECFRS has already carried out 155 rescues from heights, including animal rescues, across the county.

Crew Manager and exercise lead Tom Jewell said: “Carrying out multi-agency training like this allows us to test our skills and ensure we are learning the best and most effective ways to rescue people as a team.

“During the day, everyone worked well together to lower our four casualties safely to the ground.

“Opportunities to use iconic buildings for rope rescue exercises don’t come around very often, so we are grateful to North Essex Heritage for letting us use it.”

Jumbo is the largest Victorian municipal water tower in England and a much-loved Colchester icon. As part of their mission to restore its use, North Essex Heritage loaned the site to the Service.

Simon Hall MBE DL, Chair of North Essex Heritage said: “We were delighted to help Essex Fire and Rescue Service with their essential training. Jumbo has been part of the Colchester skyline for 140 years and this Grade ll* Listed building provided a unique challenge for the rescue teams."

Operation Vertical Limit stands as a testament to the dedication and skill of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, reinforcing their commitment to excellence in emergency response and collaborative training.


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