Urban Search and Rescue team on mission to defend UK title

Fri 8 Sep, 2017

A team of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's Urban Search and Rescue-trained operational staff is working to defend its title at this year's United Kingdom Rescue Organisation Rescue Challenge.

The competition, hosted by Humberside Fire & Rescue Service, is taking place today and tomorrow at the KCOM Stadium in Hull. The other teams taking part are from London, Tyne & Wear, Merseyside and Hampshire.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's team comprises, left to right: Watch Commander Pete Skinner, Crew Commander Alan Still, Watch Commander Carl Hayward, Firefighter Ian Newton, Firefighter Chris Coverley and Firefighter Liam Britton.

Last year the six were crowned Best Technical Team and Best Overall Team, and Watch Commander Carl Hayward won the Best Incident Commander award, in the competition's Urban Search and Rescue category.

Skills being put to the test in realistic scenarios over the two days include breaking and breaching, technical search, lifting and moving, shoring, confined space working, chainsaw and hot cutting.

Urban Search and Rescue was set up nationally following the 9/11 attack on New York in 2001. It forms part of the government’s New Dimension programme, which seeks to enhance the capability of the fire and rescue service to respond to a range of major emergencies. 

Aylesbury Fire Station is part of a national network of 17 bases for the people, vehicles and equipment needed in the aftermath of major incidents such as collapsed buildings, major transportation incidents, natural disasters and terrorist activity. 

As well as being able to cope with a range of unexpected disruptive events, such as building collapses and natural disasters, the Urban Search and Rescue team regularly works alongside firefighters to enhance public safety at incidents in and beyond Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. These include road traffic collisions involving large goods vehicles, farm fires and incidents which leave buildings unstable.

The Urban Search and Rescue crews at Aylesbury are equipped with four lorries, called prime movers, two personnel carriers and five modules containing specialist equipment.