Firefighter to collect OBE today

A West Midlands firefighter will today visit Buckingham Palace after being awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list. The award was given for his services to national and international search and rescue.

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Group Commander Sean Moore (49), who has spent most of his career based in Coventry where he was brought up, says he is “humbled and honoured” to have been awarded.

West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service outlined why he received the award and his reaction to the news when he found out.

His OBE recognises his dedication to search and rescue which, over more than two decades, has seen him deployed to disaster zones around the world.

Sean was among the personnel who responded to Hurricane Rita in the US, and earthquakes in Turkey, Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan and Nepal. Last year he coordinated the UK response to flooding in Bosnia.

His humanitarian work has also included trips to Romania, Bosnia, South Asia, China, the Middle East and Tanzania. In 2014 he coordinated fire and rescue service resources supporting logistics for the UK response to the Ebola crisis.

Married to Sam, with two daughters Katie (18) and Hollie (15), Sean has lived in Brandon near Coventry for 23 years. He went to Cardinal Wiseman secondary school.

He said: “I feel very humbled and honoured to be recognised with the OBE. It was a total surprise – I had to read the letter several times before I understood what it was! I only wish my mum, who passed away five weeks ago, could have been here to see it.

“I see my search and rescue work as an extension of what firefighters do every day. I simply enjoy helping people, especially at their greatest hour of need.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction from working with some of the most highly motivated and professional firefighters and rescue personnel, both in the West Midlands and across the country.

“I have witnessed many distressing situations across the world, where people have quite literally lost everything. It never fails to amaze me how we can, at very short notice, mobilise and deploy our teams to support the rescue and humanitarian missions and do whatever we can to relieve people’s suffering.”

Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer for the West Midlands, said: “Sean’s OBE is fitting recognition for someone who has put service to communities at home and abroad before personal aspiration.

“Sean has made a number of personal sacrifices to undertake his search and rescue work, and I’m sure that his colleagues and people throughout the West Midlands will join me in congratulating him.”

Sean joined West Midlands Fire Service in 1989 after serving in the Royal Navy. He went on to be based at Binley, Canley, Foleshill, and Coventry community fire stations. He has also worked in contingency planning, recruit training and on a number of specialist projects for the service.

Three years ago he began his current secondment to the Chief Fire Officers’ Association’s (CFOA) National Resilience and Assurance Team. He provides guidance and support to fire and rescue services, other agencies and the Government on national resilience issues. These include Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), CBRN, high-volume pumping, flood response and international response.

He is a Capability Advisor for 20 UK-based USAR teams, and also National Coordinator for the UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team supporting 15 fire and rescue services.

Previously, Sean was seconded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and was part of the project team that introduced Urban Search and Rescue across the UK fire and rescue sector following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.

He is currently a trainer and evaluator on various courses and exercises for the EU. For the last eight years he has been the Africa, Europe and Middle East representative on the UN International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

 

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Nepal deployment: conference hears about UKISAR’s role

The recent Nepal earthquake saw a number of UK fire and rescue staff deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts.

Dave Ramscar gave an overview of the work and the outcomes of the deployment. he also told the conference that there has been more than150 aftershocks since the initial earthquake in April.

UKISAR works with DFID and other government departments  to assist with international search and rescue work. It is made up of a number of services across the country and provides a self sufficient heavy response service, which means the team is not a burden on the host country. 
More than 2.8 million people were displaced and is the largest natural disaster ever recorded in Nepal. There were four teams sent as part of the rescue effort, along with four dogs. UKISAR formed part of the United Nations plan. 

Over the following days, landing permits were being negotiated at Kathmandu airport to allow more UKISAR team members into the country to assist with the work. 

They set up at the British Embassy, which included pitching a number of tents there! He talked delegates through how the search is set up in different sectors, while also doing structural assessments of buildings to assess them and to see if they can be made safe. This included a hospital which was reopened a short time later to assist in the recovery, which meant surgical wards and hundreds of beds were made available. 

Road conditions, land slips and aftershocks meant getting out to more remote areas was slower than the team would have liked, but once there the first aid given provided invaluable to people who had sustained injuries in the earthquake. 

Helicopters were also used to reach more remote areas which meant more help for injured people who may have been missed in the week since the earthquake happened. 

Once the rescue phase closed down, the teams then prepared to exit the country and awaited government clearance to return to the UK.

Following their return, observations and evaluation took place, including difficulties landing in Kathmandu, the ‘tourism tax’ the team were asked to pay when they arrived and ensuring all rescue teams were aware of which areas had been searched. 

It was a fascinating overview of the work which took place and highlighted the difficulties the team faced, along with the hugely positive outcomes due to UKISAR’s work.