Fire Drill in Lion Enclosure

16 March 2018

Blair Drummond staff put through their paces with realistic training exercise 

A controlled fire drill took place at Blair Drummond Safari Park on Thursday 15th March. The scenario tested how Safari Park staff would deal with a car fire in their lion enclosure, and was part of the emergency training ahead of opening on Saturday 17th March. 

This was a joint exercise carried out by the Safari Park and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The staged incident was planned and supervised by firefighters from Stirling Fire Station.

Community Firefighter Heather Steel from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service explains:

A fire at the Safari Park is a rare occurrence, but it is vitally important that Blair Drummond Safari Park know exactly what to do if such an emergency arose. The safety of the visitors and staff is the most important thing at the Park, but it’s also essential that the animals  at the Park are kept calm in an emergency situation. That’s why this joint exercise was so important.  

We tried to make the drill as realistic as possible. We used a smoke machine to create the illusion of a car fire, and the scenario tested what would happen if this incident happened in the lion enclosure. The white Peugeot car had three casualty simulators inside, and the Safari Park staff had to execute their evacuation and rescue plans.

Today’s drill has given us an excellent opportunity to put training into practice.

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Safari Park Manager Gary Gilmour comments:

We have to carry out emergency drills through the season. Keeping them as realistic as possible makes it as real as we can for the staff involved. 

This exercise was carefully planned and supervised for us by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. We did not set a car on fire in the lion enclosure – a smoke machine was used as it is safer around the lions and staff. The lions were all well behaved and didn’t seem to mind what was going on in and around their enclosure. They were completely unaffected by today’s events.

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Duty Supervisor Ben Houston was one of the staff at the Park who took part in the fire drill. He comments:

This was an unannounced fire drill and an opportunity for us to put our training into practice. There was a dozen staff involved in the rescue. Our job was to safely evacuate the section and make sure that the fire engine had the quickest and clearest route to the car fire. Other staff were involved in rescuing the casualty simulators from the car and making sure the enclosure was safe for the Fire and Rescue Service.”

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