FRS response to Storm Dennis discussed
THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) discussed the National Resilience (NR) response to the flooding caused by Storm Dennis over the previous weekend.
The NFCC stated that the storm created ‘several major incidents across the country’, with severe flood warnings in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire and assets having been deployed in particular to South Wales, which experienced serious floods. The NFCC added that the ‘more than 600’ flood warnings and alerts for England alone were ‘more than any other day on record’, with many additional warnings in place across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It added that the NR response is run ‘in conjunction’ with the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency, with the ‘major incident’ declared in South Wales seeing towns and villages north of Cardiff ‘subjected to more than a month’s worth of rainfall in 48 hours’. Assets deployed nationally include flood boats, a high volume pump (HVP) with a double hose box module, and a pump module, modules including 3km of hoses for pumping water away.
HVPs meanwhile can move up to 7,000 litres of water per minute, with 52 nationally registered in England Wales, while South Wales itself has a ‘wide range’ of assets being used, including flood rescue tactical advisors, flood boats, HVPs and ancillary equipment modules. Additionally, rescue boat crews from fire and rescue services (FRSs) and the voluntary sector have undertaken rescues and evacuations from properties areawide.
The NFCC said that this national response is ‘provided from a register of national assets’ from FRSs and voluntary agencies ‘to support’ the response, with the situation being monitored and response adjusted ‘as the situation changes’. NR has also been deployed to Macclesfield, Cheshire for a wall collapse, though ‘at this stage it is not confirmed whether it [is] related’ to the storm – a number of homes were evacuated, while resources were requested including a search and rescue dog.
This incident has seen a team from Merseyside FRS attend alongside a technical rescue unit from Greater Manchester FRS, while both the ambulance service and a hazardous area response team were on scene. The NFCC noted that the national response means teams and equipment ‘can be deployed quickly and effectively’, coordinated by NR arrangements, while FRS and voluntary organisations can provide 93 powered and 35 non powered rescue boat teams ‘immediately’.
Additionally, the NR assurance team (NRAT) is supported by lead NFCC officers, and coordinates the national response alongside providing ‘vital’ support to the government, alongside supporting FRSs with additional assets. NR meanwhile provides ‘invaluable’ support in response to such ‘nationally significant’ incidents, working to the National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF) to ‘ensure a flexible response is put in place’.
The NFCC concluded by noting that ‘highly experienced’ FRS ‘strategic and tactical’ advisers supported affected areas, something that has been ‘consistently demonstrated’ since 2005’s floods in Cumbria. FRSs also coordinate a national response to ‘wide area flooding’ on behalf of DEFRA, via a ‘well-established and highly effective’ NCAF.