A hub of elite firefighters trained to deal with disasters from earthquakes and tsunamis to terror attacks and mass explosions is being assembled in Hampshire.
The crews will be based at Eastleigh Fire Station, which will have 15 specialist vehicles on site – among the most of any station in the country.
The firefighters, who will work out of this station, will be made up of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Specialist and Technical Team, many of which are also members of UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR). The team was recently crowned national champions at the recent UK Rescue Organisation challenge (UKRO).
Currently these firefighters work across the county at different stations only meeting other members of the team for training and in the case of major incidents. Most work as fulltime firefighters and are attached to the specialist and technical team on an on-call basis; others are fulltime members.
Station Manager Chris Roper said, “This new hub will see all members of these crews going out to attend day-to-day firefighter incidents. The individual team members have an incredible amount of specialist knowledge in a variety of areas and bringing these together can only serve to make the people of Hampshire safer.
“The new hub will ensure the firefighters remain skilled in tackling all incidents and get used to working with each other – a factor that may prove vital in an emergency. The chance to pass on expert knowledge, exchange specialist skills and train together will be an invaluable resource.”
The team will be bringing together expertise in rope and heavy vehicle rescue as well as working at height, in tunnels, in confined spaces, aboard ships and in extreme weather. The vehicles at Eastleigh will include the USAR Bobcat, Manitou, forklift, water carrier, Land Rover and a skip lorry as well as specialist engines for enhanced response and hot cutting, and others fitted with foam capability or ultra-high pressure lances.
Incidents the team have dealt with in Hampshire include building collapse, gas explosions and complicated vehicle collisions. The firefighters have also been called out to major incidents farther afield in the UK such as the 2016 Didcot explosion and abroad including the earthquakes in Nepal, in 2015, and New Zealand, in 2011.
The move to the new station is due to be completed next year.