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Fire Service

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress he has made in developing the role of the fire and rescue service in respect of (a) mass decontamination and (b) national search and rescue under the fire new dimension project. [103295]

The procurement of mass decontamination equipment (in England and Wales) under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's £56 million New Dimension programme is nearing completion. It will deliver 80 new vehicles and 190 purpose built decontamination units each capable of decontaminating some 200 people an hour; a range of new fire service equipment for detection and monitoring of radiation and hazardous substances at incidents; and 4,000 new gas tight suits-a doubling of present capacity-to enable fire-fighters to operate safely.

The information requested on e-mail addresses and they dates the became active are in the following table. The information on the number of e-mails received in each month since activation is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.Training for this enhanced role is planned to start in April, with deployment of the equipment to follow soon thereafter.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also taking urgent steps to enhance the fire service's capability in urban search and rescue. We have made available £3 million for the training of trainers and responders in structural collapse techniques, the purchase of technical search and rescue and heavy rescue equipment, and the provision of training rigs at the Fire Service College. We have also made available some £2 million for the need of the capital. We are seeking to secure the funding for a major national investment next financial year to complete deliver of the investment.