Mearns firefighter returns from New Zealand

A MEARNS firefighter has returned to his home in Drumlithie after spending ten days in New Zealand helping with the search for survivors following the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch.

Father-of-two Scott Imray, from Drumlithie, who has been a firefighter for 29 years, was part of the Grampian UK-ISAR team of firefighters who travelled to New Zealand’s South Island where he led the team of five search and rescue specialists in searching for survivors, and later victims.

The team were activated after the UK Department of International Affairs and Development (UK-DIFD) received an official request for assistance from the New Zealand Government.

They then spent over 150 hours of round the clock operations to search the entire structure. This required complete delayering and deconstruction of the PGC Insurance building, methodically and carefully to ensure any casualties were recovered. This demanding, technical and difficult process resulted in the team discovering and recovering 13 victims from various parts and levels of the building with the site declared clear of all victims in the early hours of Friday 4 March.

Area Manager Andy Coueslant said, “We are delighted to see the team home safe and well after an intense and challenging time in New Zealand.  They worked exceptionally hard in extraordinary circumstances and they left a very positive impression in New Zealand.  Everyone at GFRS is extremely proud of the team; they are outstanding ambassadors for the North-East of Scotland and for Grampian Fire and Rescue Service”.

Mr Imray, together with fellow firefighters Neil Barnett, Terry Poole, Keith McKenzie, Crew Manager Gary Carroll and Watch Manager Brian Easson returned to the UK on March 9 to enjoy a well-earned break.