‘Tireless response’ to Derbyshire incident commended

‘Tireless response’ to Derbyshire incident commended

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) chair Roy Wilsher thanked fire and rescue service (FRS) responses to the Whaley Bridge reservoir incident earlier this month.

Earlier this month, the NFCC discussed the response from FRSs to the major incident in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, where high high volume pumps (HVPs) were deployed following ‘significant rainfall’. This had resulted in the nearby Toddbrook reservoir overflowing and threatening the town with flooding.

Around 10 HVPs and firefighters from across the country had been deployed to assist, as part of the NFCC’s National Resilience (NR) response. Additionally, some specialised NFCC staff including tactical advisers were present. Water levels in the River Goyt were potentially rising ‘rapidly’ due to the reservoir flooding, and the reservoir contained 1.3m tonnes of water, with the dam holding it back containing 300m gallons.

There had been concerns the reservoir walls could collapse, with one wall having shown ‘extensive damage’, and around 6,000 people were evacuated after the Environment Agency (EA) issued a ‘danger to life’ warning. The HVPs pumped water from the reservoir to other locations ‘to reduce the pressure on the reservoir and the river’ and ‘reduce the impact on the local community’.

Now that the incident has been concluded safely, firefighters and FRSs have been thanked by both Mr Wilsher and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (DFRS’) chief fire officer Terry McDermott for their ‘dedicated and professional response’. Those attending had ‘worked tirelessly’ to reduce water levels, with targets now reached and teams leaving, though work will continue in a ‘recovery and repatriation’ phase.

Residents of the town are now able to move home, with water levels dropping in the reservoir by eight metres thanks to the operation. Mr Wilsher stated: ‘I would like to thank everyone who attended and assisted at the major incident in Derbyshire. Once again, the UK fire and rescue service has shown how it delivers a coordinated and joined-up approach as part of our national resilience capability. This was a huge operation which was handled with the professionalism you would expect and I would like to express my thanks to everyone who assisted.’

Mr McDermott added: ‘First of all can I thank the residents of Whaley Bridge and surrounding areas for their patience and support whilst we have been dealing with the critical stage of the incident and been working to reduce the water levels as safely and efficiently as possible. The work carried out by all emergency responders has been phenomenal and the effort by all to reduce the water level in the dam cannot be underestimated.

‘We’ve had support from across the UK fire and rescue service, supporting our own Derbyshire crews who have worked tirelessly to bring the incident to a swift and safe conclusion. There is still work to be done as the recovery phase of the incident commences and we start to withdraw the huge number of fire service assets from the site.

‘Once again my sincere thanks and thoughts remain with the residents and community of Whaley Bridge and hope they understand the efforts we have all undertaken to keep their homes, businesses and their community safe. On behalf of myself and the fire and rescue service we hope Whaley Bridge can soon put this incident, which will live in their memories forever, behind them and life can quickly return to normal.’