I am pleased to announce that the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group today recommended that Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) continue to be recognised as an internationally deployable Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. 

I had the opportunity to see first-hand the professionalism and commitment of FRNSW team members today and would like to acknowledge their hard work and commitment in supporting Australia’s urban search and rescue capabilities.

Australia’s expertise in this area is highly valued internationally.  Our teams have the capability to locate and free people from large amounts of rubble following largescale earthquakes or landslides; search for and rescue people during floods and the ensuing fast-moving water; assist with urgent repairs to critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals; and manage hazardous materials or spills.

We have seen these teams at work domestically, most recently with the floods in Queensland following Cyclone Debbie. They also perform critical work internationally – for example, in 2011 in response to the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand which claimed 180 lives; and also after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, which left nearly 16,000 dead and over 2,500 missing. The teams also did extensive work in 2015, in response to Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu – the devastating aftermath of which I had the opportunity to see firsthand.

FRNSW is one of two internationally certified Australian USAR teams - Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) maintain the other international capability.  Since 2011, the Australian Government, through the Australian Aid program, has been committed to providing crucial funding to FRNSW and QFES to support their international deployment capability.

This funding ensures teams are available for deployment overseas and also assists to build the preparedness of disaster-prone countries with high urban populations in our region, including the Philippines and Thailand. In return, Australia benefits from exposure to other countries’ expertise, which our rescue teams bring back to ensure Australia continues to deliver search and rescue services that are international best practice.

For editors:

 Shot list:

  1. Speech: Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
  2. Fire and Rescue New South Wales Urban Search and Rescue site visit

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