At present, there is no formal expectation for fire and rescue services to attend floods in England and Wales.
During the devastating floods this winter across northern parts of the UK, firefighters worked around the clock saving lives, helping communities and providing humanitarian support. At the same time the service faces huge cuts to budgets, jobs, stations and fire appliances.
The FBU argues that a statutory duty for firefighters to attend floods would help fire and rescue services, other emergency services and the government as a whole to plan effectively and reduce risk to life and property. Such a duty has already been adopted in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As a result of government cuts, 10,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2010, seriously undermining the fire and rescue service’s ability to deal with floods, fires and other incidents.
Firefighters have always rescued people during floods and will continue to do so but the service needs to be properly resourced, with sufficient staff to deal with more frequent flooding and the best equipment to deal with the hazards.
An increasing amount of time is spent by fire crews dealing with flooding - 70% of boat rescue teams mobilised in the December 2015 floods were fire and rescue service boat teams. During those floods firefighters in the UK attended over 3,000 incidents.
The FBU is campaigning for a statutory duty for firefighters in England and Wales to respond to flooding, like their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland currently have.