Chief Officer launches new water rescue resource for Highlands & Islands

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Chief Alasdair Hay and Assistant Chief Robert Scott were joined by Community Safety Minister


The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service today launched a brand new flood rescue capability which is set to benefit communities across the Highlands and Islands.

The resource was unveiled by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer Alasdair Hay and SFRS Board chairman Pat Watters.

They were joined at Inverness’s Whin Park by SFRS Director of Service Delivery in the North, Robert Scott and the Scottish Government’s Community Safety Minister, Roseanna Cunningham.

The Flooding Response and Water Rescue capability equipment will benefit communities in the Highlands and Islands and add to the overall flood rescue resource available to communities in the North of Scotland.

Today’s event was set up at the city’s boating pond and was designed to show how firefighters use their specialist skills and equipment to deal with a simulated flood in a residential street.

Chief Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Alasdair Hay, said: “I am delighted to highlight the extension of flood rescue capability in the North of Scotland.

“Our focus is to enhance the safety of people throughout Scotland and deliver real improvements to meet the local needs of our communities.

“A key aim of reform is to create more equal access to specialist services wherever and whenever they are needed and the extended capability of specialist flood rescue response will benefit communities across the North of Scotland.”

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “It is always very impressive to see the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service firefighters in action and see first-hand a demonstration of the excellent service they provide the people of Scotland.

“This flood response and water rescue capability is a wonderful service for communities in the north of Scotland, and the coming together of eight separate fire and rescue services now means that this resource can be called upon anywhere in Scotland.

“Whilst it is reassuring to know that we have highly skilled firefighters trained in water rescue methods, it is also important that the public do all they can to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of others, in and around water.”

SFRS’s Director of Service Delivery in the North and Assistant Chief Officer, Robert Scott, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in the north already has a significant water rescue capability in areas which have historically faced serious flooding issues in the past, such as Elgin, Perth and Aberdeen.

“Today’s launch now extends that capability to our communities in the Highlands and Islands, thus ensuring that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is ready to respond quickly and effectively to major incidents such as severe flooding.”


Service Delivery Area North The Service has been rolling out an improved level of specialist skills capability to respond to flooding and other water related incidents across the Highlands & Islands area.

A training programme has been implemented across the Highlands and Islands area for ‘Level 1 - Shore Based Rescue’ and stations will have the appropriate equipment to support that level of response i.e. lifejackets, throw lines and hose inflation kits.

An enhanced Level 2 response will be implemented in a number of strategic locations to further support this specialist skill which includes a level of in-water capability (wading and traversing through water).

This will augment the service provided to members of the community requiring such emergency assistance. In early June 2013 Inverness station went live with a further level of response declaring Level 3 capability.

This involved all Inverness wholetime personnel undergoing ‘Swift Water Rescue Technician’ training to provide in-water capability.

Operational staff are provided with:

• dry suits

• flotation devices

• wading poles and other personal safety equipment

Specific rescue equipment has also been provided to enhance this response including:

• inflatable rescue paths

• canyon and floating lines

• an inflatable boat to assist in the rescue and transportation of people in difficulty.

A vehicle transporting equipment also supports this capability offering welfare facilities in what are generally difficult climatic conditions.

This specialist skills capability ensures mobilising to water related incidents, including ice, mud and unstable ground, giving personnel the ability to safely perform rescues where appropriate.

Multi-agency assistance supports this capability in the form of Police, Coastguard and other voluntary agencies.

Having enhanced water rescue capability in Inverness and around the Highlands and Islands areas ensures that all communities across Scotland have access to specialist skills, wherever they live, work or participate in recreational activities.