A dramatic scene is to unfold in the heart of Ellesmere Port later this month when emergency teams will practise a response to a major incident.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service will be leading the dramatic live exercise to enable everyone involved to practise their response to a major incident in the now-empty Ellesmere Port council building at 4 Civic Way.

The offices, which include an emergency bunker which was only to be used in the event of a major disaster, are due to be demolished, but they will serve one more purpose for the large-scale training exercise.

Exercise Civic Flame will be delivered jointly with partner agencies to challenge the joint understanding of risk when dealing with such an incident.

Running from 10am-1pm on Tuesday, March 26, participants include Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire Police, North West Ambulance Service, health partners and utility companies. The scenario will include simulated smoke and volunteer actors playing casualties with a varying degree of injuries that would be expected following the type of incident being portrayed.

People in Ellesmere Port town centre will see several fire engines and other emergency vehicles in the vicinity and, prior to the exercise, on the coach park at Cheshire Oaks. To facilitate the exercise, part of the Civic Centre car park will be closed – the space behind the former office building, the small, permit-only car park in front of the building; and the first four rows of the main car park.

These sections of the car park will be closed from 6pm on March 25 to 4pm on March 26. Alternative free long stay parking is available at Wellington Road North car park.

There will be a small impact on car park users and the exercise will be visible to people in the vicinity.

The exercise is a great training opportunity for multi-agency responders to test plans and procedures in place for responding to a major incident.

Alex Waller, chief fire officer of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, explained the reason for the exercise: “The fact that incidents such as this are rare in real life means it is vitally important that our firefighters and officers have the skills to respond if they ever need to.

“This scenario gives us the opportunity to test our plans for working alongside our partners when dealing with a fire in a large office building in a town centre with a considerable number of staff inside.”

Delyth Curtis, Chief Executive of Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, said: “It is incredibly important that we properly test our plans for emergency incidents. Exercise Civic Flame provides us with a fantastic opportunity to provide all participating teams with a realistic training scenario.

“Our aim is to have Council teams trained to the highest possible standards to support our emergency service colleagues in safely and effectively dealing with crisis situations.

"This sort of exercise really helps us all prepare for major incidents which are thankfully rare. I’m sure it will be a useful learning experience for us all.”