The FBU's general secretary has warned MPs that the fire and rescue service will never be fully prepared for large scale flooding incidents until a statutory duty is given to firefighters.
Matt Wrack presented evidence to Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee investigating future flood prevention.
Wrack said: “No single fire and rescue service can respond to flooding alone. It requires cross border support from neighbouring services. However, with the service having undergone huge funding cuts, we cannot be sure the resources are there to provide an adequate response to flooding. A statutory duty would ensure that chief fire officers know what resources they can call upon and from where.
“In 2007, the fire and rescue service could deploy 60,000 firefighters to manage emergencies. Now, it can only deploy 50,000 firefighters. This huge cut in resources means that planning and preparation are more important than ever. A statutory duty would clarify responsibilities during flooding and give firefighters a clearly defined role as well as ensuring that they are fully trained and equipped to tackle flooding.
“Scotland and Northern Ireland have already adopted a statutory duty. The Welsh government will consult on one soon. Frankly, Westminster should be ashamed that they are failing to do the same in England.”