Published 16 February 2023

The UK International Search and Rescue team have now arrived back in the UK

NFCC Logo image

The UK International Search and Rescue team who played a key role in Türkiye arrived home safely last night.

Deployed for more than a week, the 77-strong team – along with the four fire and rescue search dogs – landed in Stansted airport to a salute from fire engines, flowers and a reception which included a representative from the Turkish consulate and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The dedication, courage and professionalism shown by this specialist team is an inspiration; our fire family is one of the best in the world.

NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham

During their operation, the team searched hundreds of buildings, located and rescued a number of survivors – reuniting people in their darkest hour.

They also worked with countless other international search and rescue teams to ensure as many people as possible were located, getting the right kit and equipment to ensure people had the best chance of survival.

Footage taken during their deployment showed the gruelling conditions they worked under, offering hope to families as people were rescued from the rubble. One intricate and complex rescue took more than 20 hours to complete, while another saw three members of the same family reunited.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Mark Hardingham was amongst the people awaiting UKISAR at the airport. “It was humbling to greet the team after an incredibly tough deployment.

“The dedication, courage and professionalism shown by this specialist team is an inspiration; our fire family is one of the best in the world and I am proud not only of the UK fire service but each and every member of the amazing team who deployed.

“To hear what they achieved – while never wavering in the most difficult of conditions – was incredibly moving. Once again it proved beyond doubt that the UK fire service will always give help where it is needed most, without question, in the most selfless way. I hope the team get some much needed rest with friends, family and loved ones.”

The team deployed through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following a request for assistance from the Republic of Türkiye, after it announced its highest level of state emergency (level 4).

Following their arrival, the team established its base of operations in Hatay and began surveying buildings for live casualties as directed by the USAR coordination cell.

This approach also helps to support coordination of local, national and international teams as UKISAR locates people needing urgent assistance.

The team also includes medics, a structural engineer and a vet.

UKISAR has specialist search equipment including seismic listening devices to detect and locate people, concrete cutting and breaking equipment, propping and shoring tools, listening and heavy lifting equipment.

The team is on permanent standby to mobilise and assist when requested by disaster-affected countries. It always deploys as an official UK government team once a request has been made for assistance.

  • The team is made up from fire services in: Cheshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Mid and West Wales, Merseyside, Scotland, South Wales and West Midlands.
  • The team responds primarily to overseas urban search and rescue emergencies on behalf of the UK.
  • Any UKISAR team deployed is self-sufficient upon arrival and provides its own food, water, shelter, sanitation, communications and all necessary equipment to undertake search and rescue operations for 10 to 14 days.
  • This is to ensure no additional burden is placed upon a country already suffering demands on its resources following a sudden onset disaster.
  • All UKISAR staff are trained to use specialist kit and the equipment being taken will ensure the team has the ability and capacity to lift, cut and remove concrete and rubble from collapsed structures.