The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has branded the government’s National Flood Resilience Review, which has been published today, a “wasted opportunity”.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “The government has failed to examine the full range of resilience activities during floods and failed to understand the irreplaceable role firefighters play in those activities.
“The report says over 500 critical national infrastructure sites remain vulnerable to flooding, without recognising that it is firefighters who have to intervene to protect electricity stations, reservoirs, transport links and other assets.
“Firefighters build temporary flood defences and evacuate people before flooding. They rescue people during floods and help communities with the clear up operation afterwards. Yet this government and its predecessor have cut nearly 10,000 firefighter jobs since 2010 - one-in-six of our vital rescue workers.
“The report promises £750,000 to maintain boat teams, three-quarters of which are provided by fire and rescue services. But real and ongoing investment is needed to ensure there are sufficient firefighters and that they are trained and equipped for future flooding emergencies.
“The report contains some useful international comparisons for how other countries manage floods but the government need to look closer to home. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have made flood response a statutory duty for fire and rescue services. The Welsh government is discussing doing so. England needs to catch up and provide our fire and rescue services with the resources they need.”