It’s official – West Midlands Fire Service has some of the best firefighters in the world!
Eight of them are just back from representing UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) at a four-day exercise in Germany.
And they returned with top honours from the United Nations and European Union-backed event, having recorded the highest ever global pass mark.
A hurricane scenario tested teams from Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and UK. It also provided the platform for a UN team to assess the UK’s response capability.
The team called on their wide-ranging search and rescue skills including heavy lifting, dog searches, co-ordination of international teams, communications and logistics.
Their success on behalf of UKISAR means that it retains a global accreditation under UN search and rescue guidelines, which they must achieve every five years. It allows them to respond to disasters under UN mandate and wear the sky blue UN badge on their arm.
Two of the six examples of best practice achieved were performed exclusively by WMFS personnel, in the disciplines of Command Support and operating an urban search and rescue (USAR) coordination cell.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Gary Taylor, said: “The team did UK ISAR and West Midlands Fire Service proud. Their reaccreditation, with an outstanding score, is testimony to their dedication, training and professionalism. This is a highly-skilled team whose expertise can be called upon here in the West Midlands and around the world.”
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Our service has great people amongst its ranks and the firefighters who make up the international search and rescue team are remarkable people. To achieve recognition like this at the highest international level is quite remarkable and everyone in the West Midlands should be proud of them.”
The UKISAR base of operations within the West Midlands is co-located with the Technical Rescue Unit at Bickenhill community fire station. Many of the UKISAR team who volunteer to respond on behalf of the UK Government at times of international crisis are members of WMFS TRU.
They have been deployed to some of the world’s largest and most devastating disasters, including earthquakes in Haiti, Japan and Nepal.