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Update: Norfolk firefighters return home after flooding in the south west of England

12:41 26 November 2012

A Norfolk Fire Service boat.

A Norfolk Fire Service boat.

Archant Norfolk 2010

Firefighters from Norfolk’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team who were sent to Devon because of flooding and severe weather have returned home.

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A Norfolk Fire Service spokesman said 12 USAR crew members were called at 4am on Thursday, November 22, and reached Exeter Fire Station at lunchtime with two boats because of weather predictions for the south west. They returned to Norfolk on Friday night.

Firefighters from Manchester and Merseyside, teams from the RNLI, 10 water rescue teams, six high volume pump teams and two support teams from across the country were also called to the region.

Devon and Somerset Fire Service put out the initial call for four teams.

The fire service spokesman added five teams, including four boats and the divers, and a number of officers from Norfolk are also on call as technical experts to support the emergency operation.

Peter Holliday, group manager in charge of west Norfolk fire and rescue team and specialist technical advisor for flood rescue, was co-ordinating all the water rescue teams.

A regional holding area for the emergency service teams was set up last week on the M5 near Tewksbury, Gloucestershire.

Roy Harold, assistant chief fire officer for Norfolk Fire Service, said at the time: “There is lots of storm damage as well as flooding. A lot of the drains are blocked because of leaves falling.” He added the weather front was moving quite fast.

Norfolk’s USAR team, based in Dereham, was set up in 2006 in response to America’s 9/11 disaster.

Funded by central government, Norfolk’s team has more than £1m worth of specialist equipment at its base, as well as a trained dog called Hooky and two rescue boats.

There are 14 full time firefighters, in red and blue watch, and 16 on call technicians.

A large majority of the USAR team are also retained firefighters.

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