Monday, February 10, 2014
Our region’s firefighters are coming to the rescue and offering back-up to their colleagues in the flood-hit south west of the country.
As communities around the Somerset area face a battering from the elements, fire services from across the country - including Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire - are stepping in to provide assistance to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.
Norfolk was given similar support when the county’s coastline was victim to the floods in December, and now it is set to return the favour.
Bob Ayers, group manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said “It’s vitally important that services work together because as we have seen large-scale incidents drain resources very quickly and that support from neighbouring brigades and fire services across the country is vital.”
He said Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service received a request for help from the national resilience team on Saturday night and was yesterday looking at the help it could provide.
“We will do everything we can to help our colleagues down there,” he said.
“We have offered up one team and we are working out what other help we can offer.”
He said that initially it was thought that Norfolk would need to send a high volume pumping unit from Thetford with six firefighter crew members in the middle of this week.
But he said: “Now it looks like they are likely to want the crew rather than the vehicles. I think there are already 13 there from across the country, so the Thetford vehicles are likely to stay here and we will deploy some off-road vehicles with the crew.”
He said Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service had also been looking at putting together a package of help that could include four-wheel-drive fire appliances, specially trained water rescue crews trained and equipped for wading through flood water, and rescue rafts.
He said: “If we do deploy it will be the Thetford unit first, then we will see how the situation develops.”
Meanwhile Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has already sent a Unimog vehicle to help the stranded communities.
Mark Sanderson, deputy chief fire officer at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have got some national mutual aid arrangements and we have been asked by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service if we could provide ongoing support over the next few days.”
He said the Suffolk Unimog - a four wheel drive vehicle suitable for travel through flood water up to a certain depth and off road travel - was currently being used in Somerset with a crew of four Suffolk firefighters at any one time.
“It is being used at the moment to transport some of the communities in the Somerset Levels from their houses to outside the flooded area so they can get to work and get their shopping.
“It’s been there for the last few days and we have been asked to extend that support into next week. We are making provision for relief crews to go down.”
He said everything was being organised through a national coordination centre as part of the large-scale effort drawing in assistance from fire services across the country to help those affected.
“We are all pitching in and we all work together in times like this to help communities wherever they are,” he said.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has also sent some reinforcements.
A Cambridgeshire spokesman said two firefighters delivered a high volume pump unit to Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service on Friday.
“We are not too sure when the pump will be brought back at the moment. It will be left there as long as they need it,” the spokesman said.
• Is your organisation doing something to help those in need in the flood affected areas? Email firstname.lastname@example.org