UK ISAR has recently undertaken a very robust and challenging recruitment process. Due to a number of retirements across the 15 member services, a joined up approach was taken. The whole process involved applicants from Greater Manchester, Leicestershire, Kent, Hampshire and Cheshire fire services. In total 36 persons were assessed over a 48 hour period. The practical elements follow the theoretical and medical assessments that are undertaken in the applicants host service.


The purpose of the practical exercise was to assess the candidates mental and physical tolerance to arduous tasks in a wild and unfamiliar environment. The tasks were both mental and physical and involve individual and team working while under the constant pressure of assessment to simulate a typical UK ISAR deployment.

The practical exercise of the recruitment process was undertaken in Cumbria, this area is easily accessible to all ISAR teams across the country and provides a diverse and picturesque location for selection. The exercise was centred specifically around the areas of Coniston, Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale. These areas have the necessary topographical features to make the recruitment relevant to ISAR operations in the field. Although the participants were assessed over 48 hours, the Directing Staff / Assessors were on location for 4 days .

Weather conditions were perfect for this type of assessment, temperatures ranging from +9C down to -10C and had the typical variety expected in the UK: sun, wind, rain and particularly on the March assessment heavy driving snow.

Scenarios were designed around wide area search, rope rescue, water rescue and navigational techniques. The main thrust was the take them out of their comfort zone and see how they reacted in a variety of difficult and unusual situations.