Sixty-three UK firefighters from services across the UK are preparing to deploy to New Zealand to assist with an international search and rescue operation, after the city of Christchurch was hit by a severe earthquake.

The UK team is made up of personnel from West Midlands, Hampshire, Grampian, Leicestershire, Essex, Cheshire and South Wales fire and rescue services following a request for mobilisation from the Department for International Development (DFID) made on February 22.

Peter Holland, President of the Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA), commended the response of the Fire and Rescue Service as part of the multi-agency collaboration which will provide UK support to the people of New Zealand during this current emergency, he said: "It is a credit to our profession that local fire and rescue services can all work together so swiftly and efficiently to provide a highly trained international response team at such short notice. I have been in contact with colleagues in New Zealand earlier today and assured them we will do all we can to assist in this difficult time."

The United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to humanitarian accidents or disasters anywhere in the world. Peter Holland added: "UK firefighters trained in emergency search and rescue techniques will work within New Zealand to help with life saving and recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are both with the victims and their families and of course with our teams and their loved ones as the rescue work begins."


Posted: 09.58am, 23.02.11