Kent firefighters first in UK to use new specialist winches for ‘cliff top’ rescues

The new winch equipment

Kent is one of the first fire and rescue services in the UK to be using new kit which will improve the way firefighters rescue people from heights and confined spaces such as cliff tops.

The new winches are able to hoist up to three people to safety from vast drops, and allow crews to access casualties stuck in difficult to reach areas more easily.

Deal Crew Manager and member of the technical line rescue team, Dan Yates, said: “We’re really pleased to have these new winches now in operation.

“They’re much easier to use during a rescue. Instead of having to use a pulley system where greater physical activity and space is required, these winches are lightweight and can be used remotely, as well as in constricted areas.

“Previously, the teams would have required the use of a nearby 4×4 vehicle to safely operate the pulley system, but now we have greater flexibility to set-up the new winches wherever there is a safe anchor point, such as cliff tops.

“We have a number of cliff faces along the Kent coast, including Folkestone which sits at 200m high and with these winches, the team will be able to pull both a casualty and a rescuer to safety with much more ease.”

The new kit, which is designed by international sailboat manufacturer Harken, is more versatile, weighs less than the previous equipment and can be carried by a single crew member. It will improve operational response and overall crew efficiency.