Crews help Norfolk colleagues

Fire fighters from all over the country at the Norfolk Showground muster point, with local police. Picture: Denise Bradley Fire fighters from all over the country at the Norfolk Showground muster point, with local police. Picture: Denise Bradley

David Bale david.bale2@archant.co.uk
Saturday, December 7, 2013
4:20 PM

Fire crews from as far away as Devon and Somerset came to help out their colleagues in Norfolk in dealing with the floods.

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About 100 fire officers were involved in the operation, with teams using the Norfolk Showground as a muster point.

High volume pump teams came from Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northants, Shropshire, and Derbyshire.

Surface rescue boats arrived from Devon and Somerset, Shropshire, Northants, Derbyshire, Surrey, Royal Berkshire, and Nottinghamshire. Meanwhile, enhanced logistics support vehicles arrived from Gloucestershire and Hertfordshire.

The teams helped rescue people from homes in King’s Lynn and on the north Norfolk coast. It was a long night for Stuart Horth, the fire service’s area manager for Norfolk, who started work at 8am on Thursday and, after grabbing a few hours’ sleep, was back at work yesterday.

He said: “I also worked during the 2007 floods, and this was slightly worse than that, particularly round the Wells area.

“Well over 100 people were involved from the fire service, and the police resources on top of that were much larger. The response has gone very well for us. We do feel for the people whose homes have been damaged, and who had to leave their homes.

“But we would much rather people leave their homes when the warnings come, than have to be rescued.”

High volume pumps were also committed to protect national infrastructure, together with flood booms and dams.

He added: “We also had the watersafe boat team from Derby, the Norfolk USAR boat team, the national resilience assurance team, subject matter advisors for flood rescue and high volume pumps, and three support staff to help manage the site.

“We were also helped by Lowland Search and Rescue, the Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 response, and the Norfolk fire and rescue dive team.

“And we had the Norfolk fire and rescue welfare unit throughout the night.

“The incident response unit was used for mass decontamination, as flood water contains sewage and other nasty things.

“The message is don’t go into flood water, as manholes sometimes get lifted, and you could be drowned. There are also hidden objects underneath. If the water is up to your ankles, it can take you under, so there’s the potential to be washed away.”

Norfolk’s chief fire officer, Nigel Williams, said: “The national plans we have for such emergencies were put into operation and worked very well. Fire crews from across the country were willing to help. Teams acquitted themselves well and were based here overnight, helping out across the county. We give our thanks to all the crews that helped out.”

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