Better national co-ordination of fire and rescue and investment, instead of cuts, essential for flooding response, says firefighters union

The firefighters’ union, who have praised the efforts of firefighters as devastating floods have hit the north of England, Wales and other areas, have called for the government to recognise the need for central co-ordination and proper investment in flood response resources.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says that the threats posed by such large scale floods are beyond the capacity of local services to cope. The impact of massive cuts to funding of the country’s fire and rescue service is being felt by all firefighters, including those who are aiding flood rescue.

The current flooding has seen the movement of high volume pumps, flood rescue boats and specialist rescue teams from across the country as well as coordinating officers with expertise in tackling widespread flooding.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters and other public servants have been performing magnificently against these horrendous floods. A key part of this has been rescue and evacuation work and other assistance to communities directly hit. Rescues from floods require specialist training, resources and coordination. That is what has been provided from across the country over the past few days. The firefighters involved deserve the thanks of all our communities.”

Wrack called for a serious debate about future coordination for flood response, adding: “Firefighters have been raising concerns about major flooding for almost a decade. The fire and rescue service is generally a local authority service and the government endlessly tells us that any decisions need to be taken locally. But floods on this scale are clearly not a local matter. It’s all very well David Cameron calling Cobra meetings but, all too often, these matters seem to be forgotten as soon as the flood water subsides. That is simply not good enough – either for the communities affected or for those who are asked to deal with the fallout. Improved co-ordination is needed and long term funding for fire and rescue service flood response resources.”

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