THERE was a huge fire service presence at Bridgwater's tallest residential building last week as crews completed a highly technical training exercise.

Several fire engines could be seen outside Westfield House on West Street on Thursday, January 25, as fire crews from Bridgwater, Taunton, Burnham-on-Sea, Nether Stowey, Cheddar and Street stations plus officers from across Devon and Somerset flocked to the scene.

Those in attendance were there to take part in a ‘Fires in tall building’ Immediate Building Evacuation exercise.

A fire was simulated on the fourth floor of the ten-storey building, and residents joined in by making calls to Fire Control to add extra realism and give the fire crews an opportunity to carry put their skills into practice.

The Fire Control operators also had the chance to practice giving fire survival guidance and communicating to and from the fire ground.

A spokesperson for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: "A full evacuation of the building was successfully carried out.

"It demonstrated great partnership working with Homes in Sedgemoor, who also assisted with the organisation and the running of the exercise."

Neil Richards, Fire Safety Team Leader at Homes in Sedgemoor, said: “This simulation of a real fire situation is an invaluable way for us to check our fire safety arrangements and ensure we have everything in place to keep residents safe in all eventualities.

“Working with the Fire Service on such a rigorous drill will make us all better prepared in the event of a fire. 

"Whilst we hope this will never happen, the simulation exercise with the Fire Service is a great opportunity to ensure that we are delivering the highest standards possible."

Peter Hatch, Chief Executive at Homes in Sedgemoor, said: “Having built up an excellent working relationship with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Homes in Sedgemoor was delighted to support this hugely important high rise training exercise.

“Ensuring our customers' safety is our number one priority and we hope that this exercise provides even more reassurance to residents.

“A huge thank you to the residents of Westfield House who gave up their evening to participate and to both Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and the Homes in Sedgemoor team who joined in the exercise."