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Kent firefighters fly out to join rescue mission in Haiti

Kent firefighters have been dispatched to Haiti to help with rescue efforts

A team of specialist firefighters from Kent left for Haiti to help earthquake victims

A team of specialist firefighters from Kent left for Haiti yesterday, where it will form part of the UK International Search and Rescue response to the earthquake disaster.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake had struck the night before, and it is being reported that hundreds have been killed or injured in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), as one of the first call teams, has deployed a group of six firefighters as part of the UK Government's response.

The UK team has been deployed from a logistics cell within Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service gathered at Gatwick Airport. The Kent team is flying out alongside personnel from Greater Manchester, West Sussex, West Midlands, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Hampshire and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Services; a team total of 61 personnel, two search dogs and 12 tonnes of equipment.

Based in Maidstone, the 14-strong team has been selected from existing KFRS staff and is trained to use specialist equipment

Only fourteen weeks ago, a UK-ISAR deployment of firefighters including a team from KFRS were called upon to recover earthquake victims in Indonesia.

KFRS Assistant Director of Operations, Sean Bone-Knell said: "Kent's specially trained search and rescue firefighters were involved in international duties in October last year when they were deployed to Padang in Indonesia after an earthquake. We are pleased that their experience and extensive training will be used again to support the response effort and we are proud of the dedication and professionalism that they display at any incident they are called upon to attend."

Based in Maidstone, the 14-strong team has been selected from existing KFRS staff and is trained to use specialist equipment capable of handling a range of major emergencies.

The team also forms part of KFRS's Urban Search and Rescue response which has capability including kit to lift, cut and remove concrete and rubble from collapsed structures along with sophisticated equipment for finding casualties, including special cameras and listening devices.

The tools they use can penetrate reinforced concrete and metal to gain access to casualties and the use of shoring equipment allows team members to maintain a safe working position during rescues.

Any deployment outside of the UK will not affect KFRS's search and rescue capability.

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