Headlines: January 8th, 2009

Each of England’s 46 Fire and Rescue Services is to get extra funding to help them deal with major incidents, including acts of terrorism. The additional money is designed to bolster the services’ capabilities to rescue people from collapsed buildings and to undertake mass decontamination of the public.

The Fire Services Minister, Sadiq Khan, said improving mass decontamination and Urban Search and Rescue were part of the Government’s billion pound investment in essential equipment to enable Fire and Rescue Services to deal with major incidents such as terrorism, industrial accidents or extreme weather.

The additional 19 million pounds to be shared by the services is designed to cover the costs of protective clothing for firefighters working in difficult conditions, replacing oxygen and other supplies needed to simulate real life situations in training, and support and training for search dog teams. The Leicestershire and Rutland Fire and Rescue Authority coordinates this element of the service across the country. Finally the money will help to pay for mass decontamination training for incidents in which large numbers of people need to have hazardous substances washed off them quickly. The substances could be chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear.

Mr. Khan said it was vital that Fire and Rescue Services were able to practice for an unexpected event which everyone hoped would never happen. “But if it does our firefighters are ready and trained to use the vital rescue equipment. The 19 million pounds is in addition to that already provided through the Government’s investment of a billion pounds in specialist equipment for dealing with major incidents,” he said.