Incidents of flooding doubled last year, but without any guaranteed money from government

Tim Lezard

FBU logoFirefighters across the UK attended nearly twice as many flooding incidents in 2012 than in 2011, according to new figures obtained by the FBU under the Freedom of Information Act.

Fire and rescue services from around the country were called to 22,518 flooding situations last year compared with 13,042 the year before: a 75% increase.

Northern Ireland firefighters went to three times more flood incidents in 2012 than they did in 2011, whilst in Wales the response more than doubled. In England firefighters attended more than 19,000 flood incidents in 2012, compared to 11,000 in 2011. Turnouts were three times higher in the South West of England, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the North East of England, while they doubled in the South East and the North West of England.

Despite this, the government has still not given the fire service a legal duty to respond to floods in England and Wales. The fire services in Scotland and Northern Ireland are legally required to deal with flooding incidents, but in England and Wales there is still no requirement on any service to respond to them.

The practical consequence is that the funding, and therefore the equipment, to deal with floods is not guaranteed in all areas of the country.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “With the government’s climate change projections predicting higher incidences of flooding in years to come, it is absurd that no-one is legally responsible for responding to them in England and Wales.

“Quite rightly, the public expects firefighters to assist them in these emergencies. But the government must commit to funding the service accordingly, making sure there are the right number of firefighters, boats and other kit available. Providing the fire service with a statutory duty to respond to floods will reassure the public that resources are available to ensure their safety should they be required.

“These figures are further proof that the fire and rescue service in England and Wales should have the same statutory duty to respond to flooding as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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