Norfolk Fire and Rescue’s new Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (UWSAR) has just been equipped with an inflatable work boat from Zodiac Milpro. The new WB-525 boat has become a vital piece of equipment for the nine-man dive team which can use it to gain access to any type of water where their services might be needed.
The Norwich-based search and recovery dive unit is unique for being the only one in Britain operated by a fire and rescue service. It has been created using funding from DEFRA, as part of the government’s national Flood Resilience Enhancement Programme, to provide a specialist resource deployable in the event of a major flooding incident. In addition, as part of an increasing pattern of interoperability across the blue light services, the team regularly operates in support of police underwater operations.
The new Zodiac Milpro WB-525 chosen to support the team has an overall length of 5.25 metres and is now a vital piece of equipment for the Norfolk UWSAR unit. It can be towed behind a 4WD vehicle and launched wherever the team’s services are needed. The boat is powered by 40 hp outboard engine but is capable of being fitted with engines up to 55 hp. With a rigid floor and a heavy duty CSM Neoprene and neoprene tube consisting of six separate air chambers, the WB-525 can cope with fast flowing rivers and dangerous flood conditions to deliver the dive team quickly and safely to their search location. The new boat can carry up to 12 people or a payload of 1500 kg so it easily carries the bank of large, heavy, air cylinders that are used for feeding the air-lines that enable the team’s divers to work underwater for many hours at a time if necessary.
Press release: Rel Norfolk UWSAR