Categories: Featured News, Active
Tags: Devon

Devon & Somerset Fire Rescue coordinates major evacuation in Plymouth WWII bomb incident

Share this content


Overview of the Plymouth WWII Bomb Incident

Wayne Rawlins, Area Manager for Response at Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, shared insights on the recent major incident in Keyham, Plymouth.

Described as the largest non-wartime evacuation in the UK, the discovery of a Second World War bomb led to significant challenges.

Initially, plans to detonate the bomb in situ shifted to moving it to the sea for detonation, leading to extensive evacuations.

Evacuation Challenges and Community Response

The evacuation process extended as the nature of the bomb became clear, necessitating further actions from the military.

This required additional evacuations, impacting the residents of Keyham significantly.

Despite some frustrations due to the extended evacuation period, the community demonstrated understanding and good spirit.

“The residents of Keyham were amazing, leaving their homes for days, and overall supporting our efforts,” Rawlins noted.

Multi-Agency Coordination and Execution

Intense planning and coordination were required to establish a 150-metre cordon, with some residents remaining in the wider 300-metre zone.

Mitigation measures included boarding up and sandbagging.

The operation involved extensive planning, including cutting off gas and water mains and preparing for the bomb’s removal.

“The plan came in overnight in the early hours of Friday…further tests on the bomb had reduced the risk of moving the ordnance to tolerable,” Rawlins explained.

The Evacuation Process and Military Involvement

The actual evacuation involved coordinating the movement of over 7,500 people in a 300-metre radius.

This task was complex and required the involvement of multiple agencies, including fire crews, the military, police, and volunteers.

By 5pm, every resident had been spoken to and made aware of the risks.

The military played a crucial role, moving the ordnance to the sea for safe destruction.

“The military were outstanding, and we should be very proud of them,” Rawlins stated.

IFSJ Comment

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s handling of the Plymouth WWII bomb incident is a testament to the effectiveness of multi-agency collaboration in crisis management.

The successful evacuation, with no loss of life and all property saved, highlights the importance of thorough planning, community engagement, and the bravery of the military and operational teams.

This incident not only reflects the ongoing risks associated with unexploded wartime ordnance but also demonstrates the capability and resilience of emergency services and the community in responding to such threats.

The proactive measures taken in this situation serve as a valuable example for similar incidents in the future, emphasizing the need for readiness and coordination among various agencies and community members.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox