Technical Rescue

Technical Rescue deals with incidents that require additional equipment and training outside the remit of standard firefighting, this can include water rescue, rope rescue, response to terrorist threats and more.


Our Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) responds locally, regionally and nationally to incidents involving life and property as well as incidents that require extra training, equipment and knowledge. These additional skills can be defined into two areas:

  • Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) – Established following 9/11 attacks which showed that the UK may not be best equipped to deal with similar attacks. It is part of a government-funded programme to provide mutual aid and support nationally in the event of a terrorist attack or other major incidents, such as widespread flooding.
  • Technical Rescue – Enhanced technical skills to deal with incidents that fall outside the normal remit of fire crews, such as rope rescue, swift water rescue and more

There are currently two Technical Rescue stations in the West Midlands, one is located at Bickenhill and the other at Wednesbury. A third is currently planned in Sutton Coldfield, expected to be completed in May 2022.

What can they respond to?

Water Rescue

The Technical Rescue unit provide a response to all water incidents within the West Midlands region and are part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) capability to respond to national incidents.

With recent deployments to the damaged dam at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire and the floods at Fishlake in Yorkshire both during 2019, our teams from the West Midlands can respond across the UK to aid other fire and rescue services as well as here at home.

Animal Rescue

Animal rescues present a wide range of hazards not only from the distressed animal but possibly from other animals in the locality, people and the work environment itself.

While our firefighter crews deal with a wide range of animal rescues, those involving large animals or where more specialist rescue techniques, such as incidents involving horses, TRU is able to bring a safe system of work not only for the animal but for all personnel in attendance.

Rope Rescue

Utilising a range of rope rescue equipment the team are able to access, release and evacuate victims. They are able to use the equipment to work at height safely and hands-free.

This can include rescues from height or in difficult to access places, such as banks, steep drops and confined spaces.

All the team are trained to level 1 rope rescue which delivers the skills and knowledge to set up rope systems and the supervisors to level 2 who then assess the system before starting work.

Bariatric Rescue

With the additional skills in patient care that personnel within TRU have gained from their Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) training, they are able to provide a casualty focused response, with bespoke equipment, to support patient care and transfer, assisting our colleagues in West Midlands Ambulance Service to resolve complex rescues and extrications.

Urban Search and Rescue

The Government instigated the New Dimension programme soon after the September 11 attacks on the USA in 2001.

It was immediately recognised that multiple, large scale attacks on the UK would be difficult to cope with effectively by individual fire and rescue services and New Dimension was intended to provide a range of equipment, people and procedures to allow a coordinated national response to catastrophic events of various types.

By providing these new skills, UK fire services are becoming better prepared to deal with extreme situations and national support arrangements mean we will be better able to cope with the worst types of incidents.​​​​​​​

Technical rescue around a winch system lifting concrete off a dummy
Search and Rescue Dog Cara with handler mick on a collapsed structure site

The Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) function of technical rescue allows the team to provide a variety of specialist skills and functions.

These can include shoring up unstable structures, search and rescue for casualties in collapsed structures or dangerous situations, casualty extrication involving rope rescue from height or from hard to reach areas and specialist attendance and equipment to deal with major transport accidents, such as large vehicles, aeroplanes, trains and similar.