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  • Writer's pictureNEMM

Fire Service practice theatre evacuation ahead of re-opening

SMB College Group students recently took part in an exciting evacuation demonstration at Melton Theatre, where they assisted the emergency services by acting as distraught, injured and emotional casualties.

Ahead of Melton Theatre’s long-anticipated re-opening, which is due to take place next month, the college’s Performing Arts and Uniformed Services students assisted Fire crews from Melton Mowbray, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire with their emergency evacuation practice.

In order to replicate a real fire evacuation situation, this practice included realistic events such as the lights going out in the theatre, fake casualties being strewn across the seating and floors, smoke in the corridors, and simulated CPR activities.

The group of Level 3 Performing Arts students did a stellar job of acting like realistic casualties who were going through a traumatic event; some students pretended to be incapacitated and/or stuck inside the building, some were instructed to be as disruptive as possible, and one even acted as a distraught mother with a young baby.

They all fully committed to their respective roles, and were complimented by the Fire Service teams for being ‘highly realistic’ casualties.

The college’s Uniformed Public Services students were also in attendance to observe the Fire Services’ real-time reaction to being called out to an ‘emergency’ – giving the students a detailed understanding of what is required as a member of the Fire Service.

Uniformed Public Services student, Liam, is hoping to go in to the Fire Service after college. He said of the experience: ‘It was great to see how the Uniformed Services operate and the speed needed in responding to incidents. We saw the importance of moving quickly and staying calm – the last thing to do is panic in situations like this. I also liked seeing how the Fire Service worked to keep the casualties under control, and it was really interesting to see them using their kit during the simulated fire.’

Crews share instructions ahead of entering the building. Photo: Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service

Arnie Breen, Melton Theatre Manager and Section Manager for Performing Arts at SMB College Group, added ‘It was vital that we conducted this exercise due to the theatre being closed for so long and the process of reopening we are currently going through.

A ‘casualty’ is taken for treatment by a Firefighter. Photo: SMB College Group

‘We used some of our Performing Arts students to play the roles of the walking wounded and some Uniformed Public Services students as a ‘fake’ audience. The exercise went really well. The fire brigade were very complimentary about the ‘performances’ of our Performing Arts students, saying that they were very realistic and believable (perhaps a little too believable at times - as one student who was playing a member of the public trying to film everything was successfully ‘arrested’ three times and still came back for more!).

‘The students enjoyed the whole experience and it gave them all the opportunity to stretch their acting muscles. The fire brigade were ultra-professional and treated the whole exercise seriously and it gave us, as staff, a realistic view of what this type of evacuation would be like.

Some of the students who took part in the exercise. Photo: SMB College Group

‘Obviously we hope we never have to do this in real life, but this exercise has given us some very valuable lessons as we slowly re-open Melton theatre to the general public. A huge thank you to all involved!’

SMB College Group is a Further Education College in Leicestershire with three campuses across the region: Melton Campus, Brooksby Campus and Stephenson Campus. The college offers a huge range of courses ranging from Level 1 and Foundation programmes all the way up to degree level. Discover more at

The College Group is also home the 340-seat Melton Theatre, which is not only a fantastic resource for the college’s Performing Arts students, but is also a commercial venue which hosts a wide variety of shows - from college performances to musicals, pantomimes, comedy and much more. Find out more and see what’s on at

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