Fire crews' action call over flooding

Flooding and other water-related emergencies cost six lives and resulted in eight people needing hospital treatment in Tyne and Wear last year, according to new figures.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 11:33 am
Fire crews tackling a flood

The Home Office data has prompted calls from the Fire Brigades Union for more resources to tackle the rising number of callouts being caused by climate change.

The figures for 2019/20 are down from 16 deaths and injuries the previous year

Nationally, there were 111 deaths, 274 hospitalisations and 422 injuries - the highest on record – from 17,505 flooding incidents last year.

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The FBU said it was "long past time" the Government gave fire crews a statutory duty to respond to flooding to ensure flood risks are fully assessed, and the necessary resources to tackling major flooding incidents.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Last winter saw firefighters respond to two major bouts of devastating flooding and it’s sadly no surprise that flood deaths, injuries, and hospitalisations all reached record highs.

“The Government needs to recognise that these incidents are becoming more frequent and more damaging with climate change and while hotter and drier summers fuel ever larger wildfires.

A Government spokeswoman said the vast majority of fatalities and casualties come from water and rescue incidents, such as lakes and rivers, not flooding.

She added: “Our condolences go to anyone who has lost a loved one in these tragic circumstances.

“Fire and rescue services are always ready to respond when people get into difficulty in water, and people should stay away from swollen rivers, take care by the coast, and always follow the advice of the emergency services during flooding.”