Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Government reviewed and improved the UK’s capacity to respond to new global threats.
The ‘New Dimension’ programme considered what would happen in the event of incidents involving chemical, biological or radioactive materials, which would require a mass decontamination of large numbers of people, or rescue from collapsed structures.
Nationally, this led to new resources being provided to the Fire and Rescue Service to deal with:
- Mass decontamination
- Urban search and rescue (USAR)
- Water capability
- Long term management
- Command & control
All FRSs have mobilising procedures and policies in place to be able to respond to any such incident anywhere in the country. There are different levels of response, depending on the severity and location of the incident, set nationally by the Government.
In Dorset and Wiltshire, we have an Incident Response Unit, which is designed for use in mass decontamination. This vehicle is based at Westlea fire station, and is supported by disrobe modules(based at Warminster and Poole) and re-robe modules (based at Cricklade and Bridport).
We also have a High Volume Pump (HVP), located at Christchurch fire station. HVPs are used to transport large quantities of water over a long distance, which has benefits for large fires where water is scarce or serious incidents of flooding where water needs to be moved away.