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The events of 11 September 2001 prompted the Government to review and improve the UK's capacity to respond to the increased threats arising from a 'new dimension' of emergency.

Threat such as major incidents involving chemical, biological or radioactive materials, which would require a mass decontamination or large numbers of people, or rescue from collapsed structures. The programme is also a response to increased risks from non-terrorist emergencies such as major flooding. In the UK over recent years we are faced with the challenge of large scale flooding, terrorist threats, a fuel crisis and a major foot and mouth disease epidemic. The country needs to be able to cope with and recover from a range of unexpected disruptive events.

The New Dimensions programme is split into six sections:

  • Mass Decontamination
  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Water Capability
  • Long Term Management
  • Command & Control
  • Logistics

Mass Decontamination:
Nationally there are 80 Incident Response Units. We have three Incident Response Units (IRU's). These are strategically positioned around the counties, to deal with mass decontamination or industrial accidents.

Additionally we have two further modules, one for disrobe and one for re-robe. These vehicles support the IRU's by carrying additional disrobe packs, re-robe packs and a firefighter decontamination structure.

Urban Search and Rescue:
We have an Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR). One of 21 teams strategically located around England and Wales. They are equipped with five modules carrying varying equipment to deal with a wide range of incidents including Structural Collapse, Large Transport Incidents, Open Area Searches, Heavy Lifting Operations, Shoring and much more.

Water capability:
We also have two High Volume Pump Units (HVP's), which are provided under the water capability section. This resource can either remove large volumes of excess water from an area or deliver water rapidly to an area for fire fighting.

The other elements to the water project are:

  • Water rescue - responding to flooding emergencies, which requires the rescue of people from water.
  • Water safety - providing a safe system of work for HVP and water rescue, based on a national water safety framework being developed by New Dimension.

We have all mobilising procedures and policies in place to be able to respond to any such incident anywhere in the country. There are different levels of response depending on the severity and location of the incident. These have been set nationally by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The fire and rescue service will be working closely with other emergency services and other organisations.

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