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UK firefighters join Turkey search and rescue operation

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Teams from UK fire and rescue services have deployed to the Republic of Türkiye to assist with search and rescue operations following the devastating earthquakes.

The 77-strong International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team is made up of firefighters and staff from 14 fire and rescue services and has been deployed through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

They will be providing specialist technical support and expertise where it is needed most. A team of specialist search and rescue dogs has also been deployed. UKISAR have specialist search equipment including seismic listening devices to detect and locate people, concrete cutting and breaking equipment, propping and shoring tools, listening and heavy lifting equipment.

The team responds primarily to overseas urban search and rescue emergencies on behalf of the UK. Any UKISAR team deployed is self-sufficient upon arrival and provides its own food, water, shelter, sanitation, communications and all necessary equipment to undertake search and rescue operations for up to 14 days.

The team is made up from fire services in: Cheshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Mid and West Wales, Merseyside, Scotland, South Wales and West Midlands.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, said: “The UK is sending life saving kit to Turkey and Syria. This will include vital medical expertise and hygiene kits and also tents and blankets to help people keep warm and sheltered in the terrible freezing conditions they are having to endure on top of the devastation of the earthquakes.

“Our priority is to ensure life saving assistance is given to those most in need, coordinated with the Turkish government, UN and international partners.”

NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham commented: “The scenes in Türkiye and Syria are devastating to see and sadly the number of people killed and seriously injured has continued to rise.

“The specialist team being deployed will undertake search and rescue work using a range of technical expertise, kit and equipment in a bid to save lives, while supporting other emergency services teams already working tirelessly in the area. The team will undertake work where it is needed most, over the next 14 days.”

Bruce Farquharson is Deputy Assistant Chief Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and UKISAR Team Manager in Scotland. He said: “The scenes in Turkey and Syria are devastating and our thoughts are firmly with the families, friends and communities who have been affected by these tragic earthquakes.

“Our team will use their specialist skills and a range of technical equipment as they join a wider collective effort in a bid to save lives and they will also be supporting other emergency service teams already in the area.”

Station Commander and UKISAR Lead for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Darren Cleaves, said: “UKISAR is made up of 14 teams from Fire and Rescue Services across the UK and they respond to international disasters 24/7, 365 days a year.

“As part of the UK team, three firefighters from South Wales have deployed to Turkey and have already commenced operations. They’ll be utilising their specialist knowledge and experience to support search and rescue efforts on the ground.

“We are proud to be able to respond to emergencies and disasters around the world alongside our UK colleagues and our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.”

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