SFRS launches new water rescue unit in Aberdeen

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Specialist firefighters in Aberdeen are the latest to have been trained and equipped to stand on the frontline

_FZR0054 Minister With Lewis And Boat Crew Small

A team of specialist firefighters in Aberdeen are the latest to have been trained and equipped to stand on the frontline during severe weather related flooding and fast water rescue.

The highly-skilled Water Rescue Unit will be able to respond to the type of severe weather related incidents which devastated the Aberdeenshire community of Ballater during Storm Frank in 2015. 

And the crew, based at Central Fire Station, will also be able to assist those who find themselves in difficulty at the various rivers, lochs and stretches of open water across the region.

The new unit was officially launched on Tuesday, June 12 by Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing, who handed over a rope throw bag to assembled firefighters in a symbolic gesture.

This vital piece of life-saving kit is used to rescue casualties who find themselves in difficulty in the water - completing the full range of equipment available to crews on the boat.

The water rescue unit then staged a live demonstration of their capabilities on the River Dee.

The launch comes just weeks after a £7 million investment in new appliances for Scotland’s most rural communities was unveiled at the SFRS’ research and development hub in Portlethen.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay is the Service’s Director of Response and Resilience.

_FZR0076 Boat Approaching Casualty SmallHe said: “I am delighted to be here today to officially announce the launch of our latest water rescue unit in Aberdeen.

“We have trained and equipped these firefighters to the same standard as our 19 other water rescue units across the country, to ensure that they can respond quickly and effectively to help people who find themselves in difficulty with the rivers and stretches of open water of Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. 

“But they are also capable of responding to some of the more dynamic and challenging incidents, the like of which we seen during Storm Frank which devastated the village of Ballater.

“We absolutely have to prepare for increasing instances of extreme weather-related flooding in order to respond quickly to protect Scotland’s communities.”

The Water Rescue unit is capable of conducting rescues in shallow, deep, fast moving and standing bodies of water.

Also amongst the arsenal of specialist equipment is inflatable sleds for casualty recovery in potentially dangerous and difficult environments.

ACO Ramsay added: “This is the latest example of our continued commitment to protecting the communities of Aberdeen and beyond.

“Bringing these new skills into the city is the culmination of some serious planning, hard work and training - this unit at Central Fire Station is now part of an outstanding national water rescue capability.”

_FZR0067 Boat In Tight Turn SmallCommunity Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing said“This investment in a new Water Rescue Unit for the north east is the latest example of the Scottish Government and SFRS’s continued commitment to protecting communities from emerging risks.

“The devastation to the Aberdeenshire community of Ballater by Storm Frank reminds us of the impact severe weather and flooding can have on communities. This new highly-skilled team will be better prepared than ever to help people who get into trouble in the water.

“And given that Scotland has more than 27,000 lochs alone, it is clear this is an important investment for Scottish communities.”

Anyone who is looking for information on how to stay safe around Scotland’s waterways, should please visit