Firefighters leave Brentwood to help with New Zealand rescue effort

Firefighters left Hutton on Wednesday to help international efforts to rescue victims of the New Zealand earthquake.

The country is in a state of emergency after Tuesday’s earthquake hit Christchurch killing at least 98 people and leaving more than 200 missing.

Prime Minister David Cameron sent his “deepest sympathies and condolences” to New Zealand Premier John Key following the disaster, and promised to send a search and rescue team to help the rescue effort and to support the local emergency services.

Crews from Essex Fire and Rescue Service will be joining seven other regional forces to make up a UK team.

The six making up Essex’s contribution include co-ordinator Terry Jewell, assistant divisional officer Rudy Jackson, and sub-officer Gary Wootton, who were all previously based at the service’s headquarters when it was in Hutton and the team left from there on Wednesday morning.

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The officers flew from Heathrow Airport to New Zealand.

Mr Jewell, said: “The team have trained for this and have experience in this. We carry out many exercises in scenarios exactly like that which we will find in New Zealand.

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“The entire team have the training and equipment to deal with urban catastrophes and we are pleased that we can put our skills and training to use in helping people in Christchurch.”

Peter Holland, president of the chief fire officers’ association said: “It is a credit to our profession that local fire and rescue services can all work together so swiftly and efficiently to provide a highly trained international response team at such short notice.

“I have been in contact with colleagues in New Zealand and assured them we will do all we can to assist in this difficult time.”

The other officers in the Essex team are firefighter Mark Sladden, who is based in Colchester, station officer Len Cleary who is based at Loughton and firefighter Nigel Golland at South Woodham Ferrers.

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