West Sussex firefighters helping with Bosnian flood rescue

Fire crews are now damping down
Fire crews are now damping down

A Billingshurst fire crew manager is one of 33 UK firefighters deployed to Bosnia to assist with a flood rescue operation.

Two firefighters from West Sussex have been deployed as part of the UK International Search and Rescue Team (UK ISAR) to support flood-affected communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Crew manager at Billingshurst Mick Lewin and Charlie Eastwell, who serves in Hove, are part of the UK team of 33 that also include firefighters from Hampshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, West Midlands, Mid and West Wales.

The call for international assistance came following large scale flooding and landslides in areas of Bosnia and Serbia which have buried homes and stranded thousands of people.

Mick and Charlie, both part of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s Technical Rescue Unit, are working in the area of Tuzla and are primarily responsible for organising logistics for the UK team.

The UK team, which is using a range of water response equipment including four rigid inflatable boats, has already carried out 42 rescues including a number of vulnerable and elderly people who were trapped and unable to swim to safety.

The team has also been delivering vital food and water supplies to those choosing to stay in their homes.

Chief fire officer for West Sussex, Sean Ruth, said: “We’re proud that we have a specialist team of firefighters in West Sussex who are trained and equipped to respond to this kind of disaster locally, nationally and internationally.

“We don’t yet know how long the mission will last but the team are self-sufficient for 10 days and are working round the clock to support this life-saving search and rescue operation.”