Birmingham & Black Country

UK firefighter rescue team among 'finest in world'

An English team sent to help with the New Zealand earthquake rescue are some of the "finest trained firefighters in the world", their leader said.

Seven firefighters from the West Midlands, and more from nine other brigades in the UK, are due to arrive in Christchurch later.

Vij Randeniya of West Midlands Fire and Rescue, where the search is being co-ordinated, said he was very proud.

The team could survive independently for 10 days, he said.

The men will carry out command and control and heavy rescue duties in an effort to aid the emergency services and rescue teams already in New Zealand.

The team's hub is at the Fire and Rescue centre in Birmingham and is being operated by firefighters who went out to Haiti to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010.

'Operate independently'

The crew have detailed maps, with areas where people are thought to be trapped pinpointed.

Mr Randeniya, West Midlands' chief fire officer, said the team were accredited by the United Nations.

"They will be able to operate independently for 10 days in New Zealand," he said.

"They take food, water, heavy equipment.

"They train, train and train for this sort of operation."

Julia McParland, of Kinver, Staffordshire, whose husband Jim has gone out with the team, said her husband was very committed.

"I think he will cope very, very well. It is the sort of thing he really likes to do.

"He likes to go out and help where he can so I think he will be fine," she said.

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