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Specialised units

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Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)

Our USAR teams are based in Droitwich. They are able to respond to any major unstable or collapsed structure, major transportation incident as part of a national response.

New skills developed 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)

In 2002 the Civil Contingencies Secretariat identified that the United Kingdom Emergency Services required a capability to deal with incidents involving the deliberate release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminants and the 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 has an Incident Response Unit (IRU) based at Hereford, which has been fully operational since 30 April 30 2004. It remains the property of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and is seen as a national resource that can be deployed anywhere in country as required.

The Incident Response Unit vehicle provides 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. The vehicle carries two decontamination units, each capable of treating 150 persons an hour, enabling the decontamination of up to a maximum of 300 persons per hour per vehicle. Its intention is to provide for the simultaneous mass decontamination of male/female and non-ambulant persons.

High Volume Pumping Unit (HVPU)

The High Volume Pumping Units (HVPUs) can provide water for firefighting and remove flood water with three times the capacity of conventional Fire Service pumps. They are funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government through the £200m New Dimension Programme.

There are 46 HVPUs strategically positioned within Fire and Rescue Services throughout the country. We have one HVPU, based at Wyre Forest Fire Station, which can be called to work within the host county or at regional and national incidents. the asset comprises of 2 Prime Mover vehicles; one carrying 1km of hose and the Pump, the other carrying 2km of hose. Each HVPU 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 weighing 10 tonnes, or the same as eight family cars.

Swift Water Rescue Teams

The Service has three Swift Water Rescue Teams. They are based in Hereford, Evesham and Worcester.

The teams use 4.6 metre inflatable Eurocraft boats and a range of other equipment for rescuing people from mud, fast-moving and still water. They are capable of responding to incidents both in and out of county and have already assisted at a number of major floods throughout the country.

Water First Responder Teams

Seven Water First Responder Teams are based in Leintwardine, Tenbury Wells, Wyre Forest, Bromyard, Pershore, Upton-upon-Severn and Ross-on-Wye.

The teams are equipped to respond to a variety of incidents in water and complement the skills of our Swift Water Rescue Teams. The Service's water rescue capability is being called into action more and more as our climate changes.

Rope Rescue Teams

The Rope Rescue teams are based in Malvern and Droitwich. The team trains with specialist rock climbing equipment and can rescue casualties from quarries, rock faces, sewers, silos and cranes.

Environmental Protection Unit (EPU)

The Service can deploy two EPUs, from Wyre Forest Fire Station or Evesham Fire Station.

They are supplied by the Environment 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, as it will stop oxygenation within a river, stream or lake and kill all fish and plants.

Animal Rescue Teams

Our two Animal Rescue Teams are based at Bromyard and Pershore. The teams have specialist training and equipment to allow the rescue of a variety of animals.