We witness some truly devastating scenes following the earthquake which hit both Türkiye and Syria. Once the call for assistance came to the UK government, UKISAR were quickly mobilised and deployed to help via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

During their time in Türkiye, we were receiving incredibly humbling and truly heroic account of the work the 77-strong undertook. One rescue took in the region of 20 hours, with rescuers having to tunnel via neighbouring buildings to reach survivors. This just goes to show their dedication, determination, courage and professionalism.

Accompanied by four search and rescue dogs, the team investigated hundreds upon hundreds of buildings, looking to reunite friends and family in the most difficult of conditions.

To see the plane land and the team arrive home safely was an emotional experience, they were greeted to a salute from fire engines, flowers and a reception which included a representative from the Turkish consulate and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The UKISAR team – which is always on standby to assist – is an inspiration. It further drives home by absolute belief that our fire family is one of the best in the world and I am proud of each and every member of the team.

This was part of a wider international search and rescue effort which saw a number of teams all working together to assist people in their darkest hour. UKISAR took in the region of 11 tonnes of equipment with them, helping to ensure as many people as possible were located, giving them the best chance of survival.

The scenes in Türkiye and Syria we have seen in recent weeks have been difficult to watch but to know our fire and rescue services were on hand to assist is yet another example of why you are all held in such high regard.

The overriding feedback from the team was they wanted to get there as soon as possible to start helping and indeed if they could have, would have stayed longer.

The team is highly specialised and used a wide range of technical expertise, kit and equipment to help save lives.

There is much to do in in both Türkiye and Syria as they seek to understand and rebuild their devastated communities. We will continue to offer support wherever we can.

The team is on permanent standby to mobilise and assist when requested by disaster-affected countries. It always deploys as an official UK government team once a request has been made for assistance.

I also attended the funeral in Edinburgh of Scottish Firefighter Barry Martin, which was an incredibly sad occasion but I was privileged to attend to pay not only my respects, but the respects of the UK Fire and Rescue Service.

It was a very sombre occasion and while everyone who attended felt Barry’s loss, all our thoughts were first and foremost with Barry’s family, friends and colleague who worked alongside him each and every day.

The funeral and parade through the Edinburgh Royal Mile were both incredibly moving and it is a stark reminder of the role our firefighters undertake each and every day. Rest in peace, Barry and thank you for your service.