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Reflecting on a year since the Turkey earthquake: London Fire Brigade’s deployment revisited

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A year of remembrance and reflection

One year ago today, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey, affecting towns in its southern and central regions.

In the aftermath, 77 members of the UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team, including 12 from the London Fire Brigade, were deployed to assist with rescue efforts.

They played a pivotal role in the Hatay region, searching through collapsed buildings to find and rescue those trapped in the rubble.

Now, a year on, members of the team have shared their experiences and the impact the deployment has had on them.

Personal accounts from the ground

Leading Firefighter Sarah Mimnagh, experiencing her first ISAR deployment, shared her feelings: “It’s incredibly hard to put down in words how things feel a year on… This was my first ISAR deployment, and amongst the pain and devastation, I was incredibly proud to be a part of the team.”

Sub Officer Dominic Mabbett highlighted the generosity of the Turkish people despite their losses, and Station Officer James Screech spoke of the perspective gained from witnessing the magnitude of loss firsthand, emphasizing the gratitude of the local people.

Ongoing commitment and readiness

Group Commander Jim O’Neill reflected on the continuous impact of the mission on his life, expressing pride in representing the Brigade and readiness for future calls to action.

Assistant Commissioner David O’Neill MBE (retd), who oversaw the deployment, reiterated the team’s sentiments of solidarity with those affected and the desire to have helped more.

The Brigade’s involvement in international disaster response didn’t end in Turkey, as London firefighters also participated in rescue operations following disasters in Malawi and Morocco in 2023.

The Brigade’s team in Turkey

The deployment comprised twelve dedicated firefighters from the London Fire Brigade, each contributing their skills and compassion to the mission in Turkey.

The list of deployed members includes Leading Firefighter Sarah Mimnagh, Sub Officers Steve Boulton, Dominic Mabbett, Tracy Doyle, Tom Robinson, Station Officers Al Hislop, Jim Screech, Lee Newman, Station Commanders Ian Simpson, Carl Cooper, Group Commander Jim O’Neill, and Assistant Commissioner David O’Neill MBE (retd).

IFSJ Comment

The reflections shared by London firefighters on their deployment to Turkey following the 2023 earthquake serve as a powerful reminder of the challenges and complexities of international disaster response.

Their accounts provide insight into the personal impact of such missions, the resilience and generosity of affected communities, and the ongoing commitment of emergency services personnel to offer their skills wherever they are needed.

These stories also underline the importance of international collaboration and preparedness to respond to natural disasters, ensuring that lessons learned from each deployment are carried forward to improve future responses.

As the London Fire Brigade continues to participate in international rescue operations, their experiences in Turkey will undoubtedly influence their approach and readiness for future emergencies.

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