Firefighters have been tackling major flooding in northern areas of the UK since Storm Desmond made landfall on 4 December. The storm has hit 6,000 homes in the region and more than a week into the crisis further flooding remains a real possibility. Fire and rescue services from across the UK have sent resources and personnel to flood hit regions.
See this page for the latest updates on firefighters’ response to Storm Desmond.
Government 'absurd' not to give firefighters formal responsibility for flooding response following Storm Desmond
Fire and rescue services need to be given greater resources to tackle flooding emergencies in the wake of Storm Desmond, the FBU has said.
Firefighters have been leading the rescue efforts in northern parts of the UK, where the storm has overwhelmed flood defences, despite their being no formal requirement for them to do so.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said it was ‘absurd’ there no statutory duty existed for firefighters in England and Wales when they increasingly deal with flooding emergencies.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed the campaign to give fire and rescue services more resources to tackle major flooding incidents, as he visited firefighters in Cumbria on Thursday.
Corbyn spoke to firefighters based at Carlisle East fire station who had spent the last week dealing with the fallout from Storm Desmond. This was the same fire station David Cameron visited before the 2010 election where he promised that there would be no cuts to frontline services if he became prime minister. Since then the number of frontline firefighters based at Carlisle East has halved from 16 to eight today.
Firefighters have raised concern at the serious underfunding of the fire and rescue service as they respond to floods and other emergencies as a result of Storm Desmond. The FBU report that every fire and rescue service responding to the floods across northern England have seen unprecedented funding cuts over the past five years.
Fire and rescue services in Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Tyne and Wear and North Yorkshire have all faced devastating cuts that have resulted in an unprecedented loss of firefighter numbers. The FBU says this is obstructing the ability of the fire and rescue service to respond to incidents on the scale seen over the weekend and called on the Prime Minister to urgently reverse the latest cuts.