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World renowned rescue firm set to work with firefighters in UK first deal

Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Fire Service’s Committee.

A global leader in search and rescue will join forces with Surrey firefighters in the first deal of its kind in the UK.

Specialist Group International will provide round the clock support to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service for operations where it has unique expertise, particularly in river and confined space rescues, following a decision by the county council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, 23 October.

The Dorking-based firm, which has helped in the search for missing Welsh girl April Jones, recruits mainly from the military and has provided training nationally for firefighters, police officers and the armed forces.

Chief executive Peter Faulding, who founded the company in 1995, is considered the world’s leading expert in confined space rescue, such as in collapsed buildings. He recently made headlines when he was asked to perform suffocation tests on a sports holdall during the inquest into the death of former MI6 spy Gareth Williams. Mr Faulding also advises the UK Government and has advised the FBI in search techniques.

Specialist Group International has an arsenal of cutting edge equipment and a wealth of expertise at its disposal, which will help keep Surrey safe including:

* A helicopter, to provide vital intelligence from the air during wild fires and other major incidents
* A specialist dive team, which will make Surrey the first fire service nationally to have an underwater search capability
* A fleet of inflatable boats for use in water rescues and during floods
* A remote control submarine, side scan sonar and camera equipment for locating missing persons
* A fleet of 4×4 vehicles for rescues in hard to reach places and in extreme winter weather
* World leading expertise in confined space and collapsed structure rescue
* Specialist rope rescue team for cliff and tower crane rescue.

Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Specialist Group International is the best in the world at what it does and would provide rescue expertise we don’t currently have in a cost effective way. This groundbreaking deal is the first time a rescue company has provided permanent backup to a fire service.

“Most importantly, this will make Surrey a safer place. For example, more people die in incidents in the water than need to be rescued from house fires, so enhancing this capability will save lives.”

Kay Hammond is also the Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Fire Services Management Committee.

All fire and rescue services are required by law to have contingencies in place when resources are stretched, such as during a major incident, industrial action or a flu pandemic. Specialist Group International will support the fire service in keeping the county safe in such circumstances.

ENDS

Media requiring more information should contact James Oxley in Surrey County Council’s media team at james.oxley@surreycc.gov.uk.

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