Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service gets dive team funding

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has been given funding to operate a dive team.

The government has given the service £27,000 to enable the Dereham-based Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR) to search and recover underwater.

Members of the team who already have diving experience will be deployed when USAR responds to an incident.

The grant comes after Environment Minister Richard Benyon praised the county's leadership in flood defence.

Roy Harold, Norfolk's assistant chief fire officer, said the team would not be used in live rescues, only search and recovery, and could be used nationally alongside the Nottinghamshire Police Dive Unit.

Technical search skills

"The team could be mobilised in advance of a major flood event, such as a 1953-style East Coast tidal surge," he said.

Harry Humphrey, the county council's cabinet member for community protection, said: "This team will represent the pinnacle of water-based technical search skills, putting Norfolk right at the forefront of the government's response to the recommendations in the Exercise Watermark report."

Exercise Watermark, held in March 2011, was the largest flood defence exercise ever held in the UK and involved thousands of people from the emergency services, councils and utility firms.

It was in response to heavy criticism of failings in the official response to the floods which hit several areas in 2007.

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