As Storm Angus and widespread flooding hits part of the UK and is likely to continue for the next 48 hours, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) has said Fire and Rescue Services across the UK are on standby to assist as and when they are required.
A number of services have already been responding to the worst-hit areas and all FRSs are ready to assist.
The Environment Agency has issued 37 fresh flood warnings today, telling communities, mainly in the South West and North East, to ‘take immediate action’. Another 204 flood alerts are in place elsewhere.
The UK Fire and Rescue Service makes the largest contribution to the national flood response capability; with more than 100 powered rescue boat teams and 36 non-powered rescue boat teams immediately available for deployment.
Other equipment and assets include the deployment of high volume pumps, wading teams, tactical advisers and logistical support.
High volume pumps are capable of moving up to 7,000 litres of water per minute, while powered boats crewed by swift water rescue trained firefighters and wading teams are essential in helping to rescue people and ensuring vital supplies can be delivered.
These numbers are supplemented by almost every fire appliance in the UK; with firefighters trained and equipped to provide as a minimum an initial rescue capability. This response can be sustained over an extended period of time.
On Monday November 21st the Met Office issued amber warnings – the second highest severe weather alert – for Devon and parts of Somerset. In addition the Environment Agency (EA) had published further flood warnings for the south-west, across North East England (up to the Scottish borders) and Wales.
It said impacts were likely to include flooding of properties and parts of communities, and “significant disruption” to travel with a number of roads and rail services likely to be affected. The EA also warned people should be “prepared for disruption to transport due to localised flooding, whilst flooding of homes and businesses is also possible”.
Last year during Storm Desmond and Gertrude hundreds of firefighters were deployed to assist. This was part of a national response, coordinated by CFOA’s national resilience arrangements. This means teams can be quickly mobilised nationally to assist with equipment, rescue teams and expertise. The National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT), supported by lead CFOA officers, coordinates the national response while providing vital support to government.
Dan Stephens, CFOA National Resilience Strategic Lead, said: “At the end of last year and beginning of 2016, we saw the devastating impact flooding had on communities across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. All of the emergency services work together closely and around the clock to assist people at times of flooding. Being able to mobilise our national assets quickly and effectively is an essential part of our national resilience response. It is essential that the public have confidence that the emergency services can – and will – respond quickly when they need us.
“Storm Angus is no different; all Fire and Rescue Services are on standby to assist to ensure people affected by the floods are given the help and support they need. Last winter’s floods in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire impacted upon thousands of families, with many being evacuated, homes severely damage and more than 60,000 properties being without power, due to the flooding of a power station. CFOA is committed to working alongside the police, ambulance service, the military and other partners to ensure the best possible response is delivered to communities when affected by wide area flooding. If we are requested to assist we are ready to deploy firefighters, equipment and tactics advisers quickly.”
Fire and Rescue Services also coordinates a national response to wide area flooding on behalf of DEFRA through a well-established and highly effective National Coordination and Advisory Framework.