The Chief Fire Officers Association President Paul Hancock has praised the tireless work of firefighters who are playing a crucial role in responding to the wide scale and extensive flooding in the North of England.
Firefighters have rescued hundreds of people across the affected areas. In addition to the traditional response in fire engines, firefighters in water rescue boats and operating specialist High Volume Pumps have been working around the clock to protect life and property in very challenging conditions.
“Everyone involved is carrying out fantastic work in helping communities at this terrible time. Their work must not go unnoticed.
“This includes the people coordinating the national response, those providing updates and ensuring people and equipment are deployed to the right places and people working in control centres, taking calls and assisting crews to get to people affected.”
However, Paul Hancock has made it clear to government that there will be an inevitable impact upon local and national resilience following the recent announcement of budget cuts, which equate to an average of 22 per cent over the next four years. Resilience needs to be taken more seriously and not understated by the government.
This view is backed up by a recent independent report by the National Audit Office which stated further budget cuts could compromise the capacity and ability to respond to major incidents.
“Although the services have been making efficiencies in both non-frontline and frontline services, including reducing the number of senior managers, changing shift patterns and changing the way they work through increased collaboration with other services such as health and police, there is a fast approaching limit to what can be achieved without a more direct and visible impact on local, and by extension national resilience.”
The current flooding has seen CFOA play a pivotal role in the coordination of a huge number of resources, the majority of which are not given specific funding as National Resilience Assets. All these, and the expertise and resources used to advise, plan and coordinate the response could be impacted by these further significant cuts.
Fire and rescue services will continue to do all they can to provide the high quality emergency services that the public expect and deserve. Despite the funding reductions CFOA will continue to support fire and rescue services so that they can maintain a safe, effective and trusted emergency response alongside their vital prevention and protection work that helps build safer and healthier communities.