Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters return from earthquake mission - NSW

Published: 25 Feb 2023 07:21am

A team of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Urban Search and Rescue specialists will arrive back in Sydney today after a two-week deployment to Turkey to support the earthquake response and recovery effort.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the 54 FRNSW personnel led the 72-strong contingent of Australian emergency services workers.

“Our firefighters are regarded amongst the world’s best when it comes to Urban Search and Rescue and they have proven themselves yet again, providing invaluable assistance in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake which devastated parts of Turkey and Syria,” Ms Cooke said.

“They were positioned in Hatay, the province hardest hit in the February 6 disaster which has so far claimed 49,000 lives. Our Urban Search and Rescue specialists put themselves on the frontline of this tragic disaster and I can’t thank each and every one of them enough for their efforts.”

As part of Australia’s support efforts, more than 22 tonnes of equipment was used to search 27 areas, locating and recovering 34 victims from beneath the rubble.

Four members of the Australian Incident Management Team coordinated all 140 international USAR teams, prioritising worksites and following up incident reports.

As they were deployed to undertake this difficult and exhausting work, crews also experienced additional earthquakes and aftershocks which caused further loss of civilian life and building collapse.

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said despite the difficult conditions, the team didn’t hesitate in answering the call to help.

“It is difficult for most of us to imagine the scenes our firefighters were confronted with during this humanitarian mission,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“We’re proud to have deployed such professional, highly skilled and capable personnel to this disaster, prepared to act at anytime, anywhere, in a variety of roles.”

Updated: 05 Mar 2023 09:32am

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