Fire & Rescue NSW deploys taskforce to Vanuatu

Published: 17th March 2015

An Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Taskforce of 54 emergency services personnel led by Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) will head to Vanuatu today to assist with the disaster relief efforts following the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

At the request of the Australian Government, FRNSW has drawn together a USAR team comprising 42 fire officers who are rescue and disaster relief experts, six Ambulance Service NSW paramedics, one NSW Police Force officer, one member of Emergency Management Australia, two doctors and two engineers.

The team is expected to depart from Richmond RAAF Base at around 2pm and will be based in Port Vila. Their tasks will focus on clearing critical infrastructure, in particular, the old Port Vila Hospital, which has been severely damaged.

Fire officers have been sourced from fire stations across NSW including City of Sydney, Chester Hill, Liverpool, Narabeen, Gordon, Burwood, Hurstville, Blacktown, Castle Hill, Regentville, Gosford, Toronto, Narellan, Wollongong and Albion Park.

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said the USAR Taskforce is in a good position to respond to the recovery effort.

“I am proud of the fact that FRNSW can help the people of Vanuatu in their hour of need,” he said.

“The fire engines in use in Vanuatu are ones which we donated, as well as firefighting Personal Protective Clothing and equipment, so we already have a close bond with the emergency services in that country.”

“Two FRNSW officers who responded to the Christchurch and Japan disasters deployed to Port Vila on Sunday to assist with a disaster assessment on the ground. Another officer has been seconded by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to head up a UN team of 25 disaster specialists who are assisting the Vanuatu Government,” he added.

The taskforce is taking several tonnes of equipment including tents, drinking water, food and generators and can be self sufficient for up to 14 days.