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Last Updated
26-Feb-2014 16:07

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Specialised Units

New Dimension Project

The government has invested considerable resources to deliver new equipment, training and procedures to the Fire and Rescue Service to enhance national capabilities. This is known as the New Dimension Programme and includes the specialist units of USAR, IRU and HVPU. For further information on these units, or for other specialist teams within the Service, select from below.

  USAR  |  IRU  | HVPU  | Swift Water Rescue  |  Rope Rescue  |  Environment Protection

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)


USAR search dog


The USAR teams, who are based at Droitwich, are able to respond to any major unstable or collapsed structure or major transportation incident as part of a national response. New skills developed to meet this requirement include working in confined spaces, safe working at heights carrying out search and rescue operations in a multi-level collapsed building, technical search, shoring, breaching and breaking skills

Incident Response Unit (IRU)

Decontamination team

Firefighter decontamination

Incident response unit

In 2002 it was identified by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat that the United Kingdom (UK) Emergency Services required a capability to deal with incidents involving the deliberate release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminants and the subsequent potential for the contamination of large numbers of the public.

As a result the Fire and Rescue Service would assume the overall responsibility for the initial management of Mass Decontamination of the public.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service were provided with two Incident Response Units (IRU’s) which have been fully operational since April 30, 2004. One is based at Droitwich and the other is at Hereford. They remain the property of the DCLG and are seen as a national resource that can be deployed anywhere in country as required.

The Incident Response Unit vehicles are required to provide a mass decontamination facility at the scene of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident, whether as a result of terrorist action or industrial accident. Each vehicle carries two decontamination units, each capable of treating 150 persons an hour, therefore enabling the decontamination of up to a maximum of 300 persons per hour, per vehicle deployed. Its intention is to provide for the simultaneous mass decontamination of male/female and non-ambulant persons.

High Volume Pumping Unit (HVPU)

High Volume Pump

Pumping unit

High Volume Pump Unit

The High Volume Pumping Units (HVPU’s), funded by Communities and Local Government through the £200 million New Dimension Programme, can provide water for firefighting and remove flood water, with three times the capacity of conventional Fire Service pumps.
Forty six HVPU’s are strategically positioned within Fire and Rescue Services throughout the country. In Hereford and Worcester we have two HVPU’s based at Kidderminster Fire Station.
They can be called upon to work within the host county or at regional and national incidents.
Each HVP is capable of moving huge volumes of water - up to 7,000 litres of water per minute. An Olympic size swimming pool could be emptied by a pair of HVPs in three hours compared to just over nine hours with standard fire and rescue service pumps. A road tanker containing 28,000 litres (roughly 6,200 gallons) could be emptied by a single HVPU in four minutes. Each HVPU comes in two parts, each of which weighs 10 tonnes - or the same as eight family cars.

Swift Water Rescue Teams

swift water rescue team

swift water rescue team

swift water rescue team

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service have three swift water rescue teams, one based at Worcester, one based at Evesham and one at Hereford. The teams are complimented by 4.6 metre inflatable Eurocraft boats and a range of equipment suitable for rescuing people from mud, fast moving and still water. The teams are capable of responding to incidents both in and out of county and have already assisted in a number of major flooding events throughout the country. The Service’s water rescue capability is being called into action more and more as climate change makes it’s presence felt.

Rope Rescue Teams

Rope rescue team

Rope rescue team

Rope rescue team

The Rope Rescue team is based at Malvern Fire Station. By training with specialist rock climbing equipment they can rescue casualties from quarries, rock faces, sewers, silos and cranes.

Environmental Protection Unit (EPU)

Environment unit

Environment unit

Environment unit

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service can deploy two EPU's, from either Stourport Fire Station or Evesham Fire Station. They are supplied to the Service by the Environmental Protection Agency for use at incidents where hazardous chemicals may be present or for spills of chemical (or natural) agents that may be in danger of entering the water course. One of the worst things that can enter a water course is milk. Surprisingly this natural product will stop oxygenation within a river, stream or lake and kill all fish and plants.