Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

November 20, 2009 09:47 ET

Flooding-Union Praises Response to Floods but Asks Why Statutory Duty is Missing from Flooding and Water Management Bill

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2009) - The major floods over the past two days have once again highlighted the central role firefighters play in responding to a range of emergencies. Firefighters, working with other agencies, have been at the heart of the operation to protect the safety of the public.

The Fire Brigades Union has expressed concern that this central role is still not recognised by Government. Planning for and responding to flooding is not considered to be core function of the Fire and Rescue service and the Government has refused to make it so despite lobbying by firefighters since the floods of 2007.

The Flood and Water Management Bill flagged up in the Queen's speech ignores a key Pitt review recommendation that dealing with widespread flooding should be made a statutory duty of the fire and rescue service. While Government welcomed the Pitt Review findings, it has ignored this key recommendation.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary said: "Once again fire crews are doing an outstanding job protecting the safety of our communities and property in the face of these terrible floods. We have raised concerns for a number of years about the need for adequate resources, equipment, training and personnel.

"Yet the government continues to refuse to properly acknowledge the role of the fire service in these situations. With adequate resources and training, firefighters are very happy to play this role.

"The current legal position could allow individual services to refuse to plan, train or respond to major floods. That is simply ridiculous and there are continuing shortages of basic equipment leaving fire crews going into water with kit designed to protect them in fires but not in flood water.

"We are also concerned about the scale of cuts we face in the fire service. Claims of reduced fire calls are being used to justify a reduction in the numbers of firefighters but floods and other challenges raised by climate change means that operational demands are not falling.

"We hear a lot about protecting frontline services but we are not seeing any evidence of that in the fire and rescue service. If more cuts go ahead there will be fewer and fewer fire crews able to respond to all the emergencies we have to deal with."

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