Merseyside firefighters among those deployed to Morocco following earthquake

Firefighters from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) are among those deployed to Morocco to assist with search and rescue operations following the devastating earthquake.

The 62-strong International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team is made up of firefighters and staff from Merseyside, Cheshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Mid and West Wales, Scotland, South Wales and West Midlands.

Six members of MFRS’ search and rescue team including a team leader and dog handler will be among those providing specialist technical support and expertise where it is needed most. A team of search and rescue dogs - including one from Merseyside – has also been deployed.

The team has been deployed through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, after the government of Morocco accepted the UK offer of assistance.

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

MFRS Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “The situation in Morocco is devastating to see, but we will do everything in our power to help those in a terrible situation.

“We have the skills, the expertise and the equipment to make a real difference, particularly in light of the deployment to earthquakes in Türkiye earlier this year. This recent experience will be invaluable in helping the emergency services teams already working tirelessly in the disaster-stricken area. Helping people in their time of need is what we do in the fire & rescue service and that desire to help goes far wider than our borders here in Merseyside.

“The team of 60 firefighters and staff will be able to use a range of technical expertise, kit and equipment in areas where it is needed most, in a bid to save lives.”

UKISAR – for which MFRS is lead authority - is formed from 14 UK FRSs and 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 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 up 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.