After yet another night of extraordinary professionalism from fire crews dealing with massive floods in the South West, the FBU has put politicians on notice that they expect the threat of front line cuts to be removed. Last night proved to be another very busy night for fire crews in the South West dealing with widespread flooding throughout the region.
As the very serious weather situation developed, plans were initiated by the fire service which has seen crews and equipment from other areas of the UK arrive in the region in order to assist with the situation. This co-ordination has doubled the specialist capacity in the South West but is only possible because no other region is affected to the same extent. Even with this extra assistance the service has been pushed to the limit with emergency fire control staff working around the clock to deal with high levels of emergency calls and co-ordinating responses to them. Fire crews have been on the ground constantly since Wednesday operating in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances to help people badly affected by severe flooding. Crews have carried out countless rescues of people trapped in flood water and have been dealing with landslides and large scale pumping operations.
With more storms forecast for the weekend, the fire and rescue service remains on high alert. The FBU in the region has thanked UK wide colleagues for their assistance so far and has received many messages of support which will be passed on to the crews involved. The union has also put politicians on notice that they expect recognition of the enormous demands placed on the capacity of the service and that any suggestion of cuts in the frontline are now removed.
Talking about the situation, Tam McFarlane from the South West FBU said; “The professionalism and commitment being shown by members of the service, around the clock and in the most difficult of circumstances, is there for all to see. This is the teamwork of the fire and rescue service at its best but it should be obvious to everyone that we are working on the limit. We are putting our local politicians on notice that we expect our service to be supported and that the threat of further cuts, which we are currently all working under, be removed.
“The government has recently been told by the Chief Fire Officers Association that proposed budget cuts will lead to over 4,000 firefighter posts being cut, 60 fire stations closed, 150 fire appliances cut and 40 fire stations downgraded across England. The current and ongoing situation in the South West should be a stark wake up call to the consequences of proposed cuts to the front line fire and rescue service and politicians need to pay heed.
“Large scale floods are becoming a regular feature of the work that we do and every region should have the necessary equipment and front line firefighting staff needed to deal with it. This means investment not cuts and we will be writing to all MPs in the region demanding a recognition of the work that we do and support for our service. That includes a statutory duty on the fire and rescue service to respond to major flooding, which we have in Scotland and Northern Ireland – but sadly not yet in England and Wales.”
With more bad weather due over the weekend the union advises everyone to keep up to date with weather forecasts and only travel if absolutely necessary.
Executive Council Member, South West FBU – Tam McFarlane 07813 170 279