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London firefighters scooped a host of awards after an intense, two-day challenge, thought to be the largest rescue competition in the world.
Out of five challenge areas, London Fire Brigade won three, seeing off competition from 36 fire and rescue service teams from across the UK including Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Scotland and Cheshire.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “This is a fantastic achievement and I am so proud of all of the London firefighters that took part. I already knew we had some of the best rescue teams in the country and this award just proves it! I’d like to congratulate them, and all the firefighters who took part this weekend.
“It’s been a great weekend with the Lions winning on Saturday, London taking home the top spot in most of the categories at the UK Rescue Challenge, and hopefully Andy Murray winning Wimbledon!”
More than 400 people flocked to see hundreds of firefighters compete in a range of skills to be crowned the best in the UK on Friday and Saturday on a specially constructed area near the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.
Around 600 competitors were at the event, staged by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO).
London firefighters won the Rope Challenge, Urban Search and Rescue Challenge and the Trauma Challenge. London also won first prize in the best Medical Rescue in the Urban Search and Rescue Challenge, Best Incident Commander in the Rope Challenge and best Technical Team in the Urban Search and Rescue Challenge and the Rope Challenge. The capital’s crews came seventh out of 46 teams in the Extrication Challenge, where crews demonstrate the skills used at the scene of road traffic accidents. They were presented with their awards at the United Kingdom Rescue Challenge 2013 award ceremony at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service won the Extrication Challenge and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service won the Water Challenge.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “The UK Rescue Challenge 2013 was a great success. Our staff worked really hard in planning and staging the event. The competitors are a credit to the fire and rescue services and really show what professionalism there is in our sector. Many had given up spare time to train and prepare and I was proud to see their efforts recognised.
“A variety of equipment was on show from the hydraulic cutting equipment used by modern fire and rescue services to ropes, harnesses and water rescue kit.
“Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has hosted large events in the past; most notably the World Firefighter Games in 2008. The Service is once again proud to host another major event that showcased Liverpool’s history, culture, warmth and hospitality.
Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter, Chair of UKRO and Chief Fire Officer of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service said:
“The range of skills and professionalism on show during the event was fantastic and it was great to see all of the teams’ efforts recognised at the awards ceremony. The atmosphere has been exceptional and the hospitality of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and their volunteers has been brilliant. I've spoken to competitors, public and sponsors and they all agree it has been superb.
“This is the largest number of competitors we have had so far in the event’s history. The unique thing about the UK Rescue Challenge is that it shows the variety of rescue skills required by the modern fire and rescue service. It’s not just about extinguishing fires, a lot of training goes on every week across the UK.”
The site included two metal towers, more than 30-feet high, which were used to test rope skills and floating pontoons in water near Kings Dock, where firefighters rescued “casualties” as part of the assessments.
Four international teams from Spain, Turkey, Macedonia and Austriaoutside also took part in the event.
Crowds also flocked to the Community Village area at the event where there was safety information available for the public on road safety and fire safety during the two days. A range of activities were held for the family, including the Fire Fit climbing wall, pancake making sessions, quad bikes and a chip pan fire demonstration.
Facts about road traffic accidents
New figures, released on Friday, to mark the start of the United Kingdom Rescue Challenge 2013, revealed firefighters rescued more than 20,000 people following road crashes in England in three years, six times as many people as those rescued from house fires during the same period.
In the three financial years, ending March 2012, the most recent figures available, 23,600 people were rescued by fire and rescue services in England following crashes on the road.
During the same period, 3,600 people were rescued in England by fire and rescue services after fires started by accident in homes. The rounded figures were obtained from the Department for Communities and Local Government.