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USAR - Your Experiences


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Afternoon all. I’m having a look at specialisms within the world of fire and rescue services. They’re obviously few and far between, but one that sticks out given my background in confined space and line access is USAR.

I’ve had various dealings with USAR at building collapses and the like and it looks like an interesting line of work, and am considering going over to a USAR station with a view to getting on a training course at some point in the future.

My question to the wise members of this forum is: Is it worth it?

Thanks in advance.

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I would say it is worth it. For an expanded skill set i doubt anything comes closer for someone at firefighter rank. I think it depends how your USAR is utilised within LFB. In west mids the tech rescue teams are based at 2, soon to be three stations, with the PODs kept at Bickenhill. The majority of stuff they go to seems to be vehicles into buildings, animal rescue and bariatric removals with the occasional body retreival. In my RDS service the USAR is a different entity, they have line rescue capability but the majority of those jobs are done by the dedicated team at Malvern. I guess the the type of jobs and their frequency is based on the landscape, i can imagine with the ever changing building profile in london you may get your share of USAR jobs. But i’d say go for it, ive never met anyone who regrets doing the role. Are you talking about transferring to a FRU station that does USAR or is it a separate entity? 

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Cheers for the reply, @Luminoki. Within London, all USAR are FRUs, but not all FRUs are USAR if that makes sense. So it’s a case of transferring into a FRU station with USAR capabilities, namely Heston, Battersea, Croydon, East Ham or Edmonton. Which is good, because it means that USAR is only a temporary attribute, and that firefighters cycle around riding the pump/pump ladder and the FRU, giving the usual variety of work which keeps things fresh.

I reckon the senior hands with USAR qualifications stay on the FRUs most of the time to make sure it’s on as a USAR truck as opposed to a regular FRU, so it’d be a bit of a waiting game.

Thanks again for the info, much appreciated.

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Absolutely best thing I’ve done in the fire service, all the previous experience and knowledge will be built on and will make you more comfortable in both the Usar and fire world.

I’ve been able to attend and do things as a firey I’d have never known even existed.


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I transferred to my current brigade 2 years ago. 6 months after the opportunity came up to transfer to the USAR team, best decision I made. In the space of a year, I completed my USAR 1 and 2, SRT, RBO, confined space and LACE now going to be doing chainsaw and hot cutting. Learnt so many new skills. We ride the pump at the station to, so keep up core firefighting skills, and maintain the op experience. Down sides it’s alot to do with the WDS and USAR Mocs, plus we work 4 12 hour days, and on-call out of hours for USAR which is a lot. But except it for the skill set experience. 

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I would consider it but the thought of multiple courses at Beckton makes me feel a bit sick

In all seriousness I will likely give it a go in a few years when my kids are a bit older

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@HB12 i think like LFB and West Mids has the best of both worlds, riding a truck and USAR is a big selling point for some ( and a negative to others ) i would honestly hate to be on a USAR only station and miss out on stuff i joined the job to do, i still get a buzz turning onto a street at 3am and seeing the glow of a car fire at the other end. And then LFB go one better  and have no on call element ( i presume ) i wouldnt mind the pager bit, i am already RDS, but the lack of flexibility means its too much of an impact on the home life

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I wouldn’t have ever done it, if it meant I had to come off the pump, end of the day that is my bread and butter, and what I love doing at heart. Not many services have dedicated USAR only left. 
yeah the on call can be a ball ache. Do a 12 hour day, then get tipped to a barriatric at 2 in the morning. But we can start later if that happens, the pump is just crewed by the RDS then. 

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