New water rescue units launched

FIFTY firefighters in Ipswich are now trained and equipped to carry out water rescues around the country.The full-time officers based at the Princes Street station will join the teams already set up in Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds to come to the aid of anyone in difficulty while in water.

FIFTY firefighters in Ipswich are now trained and equipped to carry out water rescues around the country.

The full-time officers based at the Princes Street station will join the teams already set up in Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds to come to the aid of anyone in difficulty while in water.

Senior divisional officer Phil Embury said: “Some time ago we were forced to stop attending water related incidents because it is a very skilled area of work.

“This followed on from several incidents elsewhere in the country where firefighters died attempting to rescue people in fast-moving water.

“However when money became available for training in new methods of rescue last year, we looked at how we could improve the service and decided that this sort of training would help us in our task of keeping the public in Suffolk safe.

“So we carried out a thorough research project looking at the kind of thing we would need and identified three locations in Suffolk where we thought the teams should be based.”

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Known as swift-water rescue technicians, they were sent to specialised rescue training centres in Northampton and Wales, and equipped with inflatable boats and tools for carrying out water rescue.

The launch of the team came just days after a former Suffolk firefighter criticised the recovery operation when a dead body was found floating at Ipswich docks, on December 16.

Colin Fisk criticised the fact that time had to be spent waiting for water units to be deployed from Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

Mr Embury said: “It was unfortunate that literally days after that incident, we had had the water rescue units in Ipswich ready to go.

“Training began in the summer but because they are all operational officers they couldn't all be trained at the same time - it needed to fit in with their shifts - and for logistical reasons the Ipswich unit was trained last.”

“But they are now ready to help out where they are needed.”

The Lowestoft unit has 28 trained swift-water rescue technicians, and Bury St Edmunds has 40.

Have you been rescued from danger by the new units? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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