Fire chiefs to axe county’s underwater search and recovery team

The underwater search and recovery unit is set to close. Picture by Luke Powell (Archant).

The underwater search and recovery unit is set to close. Picture by Luke Powell (Archant). - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs have confirmed that the county's underwater search and recovery team will close this spring after funding was cut.

The team, run by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, has been earmarked for closure by April, with bosses blaming a reduction in the National Resilience grant.

Ten staff members are affected by the decision, but none of them are employed to solely support the unit, so no job losses are expected, according to the county's chief fire officer, David Ashworth.

He said: 'The team supports police in the recovery of evidence.

'Its closure will not reduce Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's ability to respond to water rescue incidents locally or nationally.'

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This newspaper understands the number of call-outs was diminishing, with the number of incidents last year believed to be fewer than 10. Mr Ashworth said that the reduction in the resilience fund would not affect other core services such as urban search and rescue, high volume pump, and the incident response. 'We looked at other ways to fund the team, however the funding gap was deemed too significant to cover,' Mr Ashworth said.

The service was introduced in Norfolk in 2012 following a £27,000 grant from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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