In 1998 the CACFOA Operations
Committee set up a small working party of senior officers from a number of
coastal brigades and they produced the “Offshore Firefighting Working party
report – 1998”
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for the initiation and co-ordinating of firefighting and rescue at sea and as a result in 2003 set up the “Sea of Change” project to ensure the appropriate assistance is available around the UK. It is hoped that this will be completed by 31st March 2006.
In October 2005 a Memorandum of Understanding between the MCA, CFOA and the Ministry of Defence was signed in relation to the provision of helicopter training to MIRG FRS teams.
In December 2005 the first MCA/Fire Liaison Manager was appointed. The Liaison Manager is currently an Area Manager with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue and will take up the post early in 2006.
The MCA/FRS strategy will be launched at the Annual CFOA Marine Operations Group meeting at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, Hampshire on March 8th 2006.
For the majority of incidents the crews will be transported by helicopter but tugs could also be used to transport heavy material and additional crews.
A total of 15 Fire and Rescue Services have agreed to participate in what will be know as the UK Fire and Rescue Services Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG). Each MIRG will have approximately 50 firefighters equipped with pagers and split into 2 groups. All personnel in a group will be off duty at the same time. When an incident occurs the off duty team will be paged for the initial response and if additional resources are required the on duty group will be paged to respond.
They 15 FRS are:-
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service
Kent Fire and Rescue Service
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
States of Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service
States of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service
Cornwall County Fire Brigade
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service
There will be three MIRGs in Scotland, Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service (which has been up and running for ? years) Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.
The Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Maritime Incident Response Unit is based in the garage in Greenock Fire Station yard. Photo
The Primary Search and Rescue helicopter for Strathclyde will come from either RNAS Gannet at Prestwick or CGH Stornoway.
A report dated 27 April 2006 by the Chief Officer was
submitted on a proposal to pay members of the Maritime Incident Response Group
an availability allowance of £1,030.95. The Group provided a national Fire
Service response to maritime incidents within the British Search and Rescue
Area, an initiative established through partnership with the Maritime and
Coastguard Agency, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Fire Officers’
The group comprised a trained cadre of personnel from 15 Fire and Rescue Services throughout Britain with each Service expected to provide between 12 to 18 personnel on request. To enable the Service to meet this commitment there were 55 members in the team who were available for recall to duty in the event of an incident. In recognition of this commitment it was considered that an annual availability allowance be paid which would increase in line with the annual pay settlement.
SFR MIRG team became a declared resource to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at the Official Launch of the Team at Greenock Fire Station on Thursday 22nd March 2007.
After five years with no call outs for any MIRG Teams the MCA withdrew funding for the MIRG Teams. Strathclyde continued funding the unit until 31/3/2013 when the new Scottish Fire Service takes over. Humberside, Hampshire and East Sussex also continued their MIRG Teams with the result there are now only four teams around the country.
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF STRATHCLYDE FIRE & RESCUE MIRG TEAM
22nd March 2007
Welcome to the Launch of the
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue MIRG Team which, today becomes a declared resource
to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Myself and the Fire Board welcome the opportunity to be involved in this cross-government project which includes the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Fire & Rescue Services (FRS), the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
I am extremely proud of the personnel involved, who over the last 2 years, have undergone intensive training in practical ship firefighting, sea survival techniques, helicopter underwater escape operations, winching by helicopter onto vessels in distress and use of the extensive equipment provided by the MCA and SFR specifically for the team.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the continued support by Strathclyde Fire Board who have provided;
• A purpose built
MIRG Operations Room at Greenock Fire Station at a cost of £50,000.
• The provision of a dedicated MIRG vehicle at a cost of £30,000.
• The funding of an additional availability allowance to SFR MIRG team members at an annual ongoing cost of £54,000.
I am confident that the introduction of the MIRG response will improve national resilience to deal with emergencies at sea and minimize loss of life amongst seafarers.
BP Sweeney QFSM, D.Univ, MA. Chief Officer, Strathclyde Fire & Rescue
(The rest of the programme has a timetable for the day, list of the team members and 4 photos.)
The MIRG Team will respond to
fight fire, deal with chemical hazards and free people trapped in vessels at
Strathclyde was the twelfth Fire and Rescue to become a resource available to the MCA.
Area Manager Craig Cook of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue who is seconded to the MCA as Fire Liaison Manager is responsible for the management of the UK MIRG.
At the launch the Strathclyde team consisted of 52 members made up of 8 Group Managers, 9 Watch Managers, 12 Crew Managers and 23 Firefighters.
The callout procedure mentioned above is not used. On receipt of a callout the members of three of the four watches are paged (every month one watch is not on call, so watches are on call nine months a year). Greenock’s two wholetime pumps along with Port Glasgow’s wholetime pump will proceed to the MIRG centre at Greenock Fire Station ( if they are at an incident, a pump will be sent to relieve them and allow them to return to Greenock) so the MIRG team members on the crew can staff it. The off duty members will not go to the incident on the basis of the first six in but rather the crew, minimum of six and maximum of nine, will be picked from those that turn up (probably by a Crew Manager with knowledge of their skills) to form the Strike Team. The possible make up of the team will be 1 Watch Manager preferably a Group Manager, 1 Crew Manager and 4 Firefighters. The equipment required will be loaded into three Helicopter Load Bags (HLB) each with a maximum load of 100kg, all items that can go have been previously weighed and there is a list of equipment and each piece’s weight. The equipment is then transported to the launch site by the Ford Ranger assigned to the Unit.
Team members have four layers of protection
Layer One Thermal Undergarments
Layer Two Lightweight Working Coverall
Layer Three Helicopter Transit Suit (one piece)
Layer Four Wet Weather Gear which can be worn on deck in place of the Helicopter Transit suit
On the helicopter transfer a Passenger Short Term Air Supply System (P-STASS) is worn on the front round the waist below the life jacket. This is a compact, lightweight compressed air breathing apparatus designed for use by helicopter passengers during an emergency ditching into water. It provides air upon demand to the wearer to increase the survivability factor and safe egress from a submerged helicopter.
The system will provide two minutes of breathing air at a depth of five metres and has been designed so that it can be recharged and maintained after use on regular basis.
Each member must wear a 275 Newton Auto/Manual Lifejacket which automatically inflates and turns the wearer onto their back on entering water. On helicopter transfer all automatic actuators are removed and put in a lifejacket actuator wallet which is transported in one of the HLBs.
Each person has a Personal Transit Bag which is used to carry their Firefighting PPE excluding fire boots and small items of personal clothing and welfare packs. When the fire kit is donned the transit suit is put in the PTB. The maximum weight of the PTB is 12kgs
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