Fire service 'hampered by budget cuts during floods'

The fire service's biggest mobilisation since the Second World War is being hampered by shortages of staff, equipment and training, firefighters have claimed.

Govt's fire and rescue adviser dismisses union claims

The chief fire and rescue adviser for the Government has dismissed claims that cuts in funding have hampered the efforts of those dealing with the flooding crisis.

Peter Holland said the claims are "completely unfounded" and added:

Over 1,000 fully equipped firefighters from right across the country are doing an incredible job working in shifts to reduce water levels and help communities deal with the flooding giving support wherever and whenever it is needed.

The crews who have been drafted in from around the country are specially trained professionals who have the very best equipment for dealing with the floods including high volume pumps, rescue boats, 4x4 fire vehicles and dry suits.

While fire and rescue services are busy dealing with the floods, there still are plenty of fire engines in local areas to respond to non-flood emergencies."

– Government's chief fire and rescue adviser, Peter Holland

'Cuts severely jeopardising ability to cope with floods'

Unprecedented cuts in funding are "severely jeopardising" the fire service's ability to cope with the floods effectively, the Fire Brigade Union has suggested.

Fire services has expressed concern over the 'lack of staff, equipment and training' during the flood crisis. Credit: PA Wire

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said while firefighters were doing a fantastic job dealing with the crisis, a "very troubling picture" was emerging of "understaffed operations, badly equipped firefighters and inadequate training".

“Although there has been improvement in equipment after firefighters raised concerns during the 2007 floods, it seems our calls for better preparation and support have not yet been adequately addressed, with unprecedented cuts severely jeopardising our ability to cope with the floods effectively."

Mr Wrack said firefighters had a right to "expect the best levels of training, equipment and resources".

Read: Firefighters 'hit by infections and sickness' during floods

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Firefighters 'hit by infections and sickness' during floods

Firefighters are being affected by suspected waterborne infections and sickness as a result of their work to deal with the flood crisis, a union has claimed.

The Fire Brigade Union said cuts in funding have led to staff shortages, poor equipment and inadequate training.

Examples of equipment shortages and issues reported by firefighters include:

  • Large numbers of firefighters attending floods in protective equipment designed for dealing with fires, rather than water
  • A shortage of specialist fire service vehicles capable of driving through high levels of water
  • The deployment of ageing or deteriorating boats
  • A lack of sufficient dry suits, meaning replacement crews had no immediate access to this equipment, restricting their ability to respond
  • Widespread problems relating to health and welfare, with firefighters being affected by suspected waterborne infections and sickness

Fire service 'hampered by budget cuts during floods'

The fire service's biggest mobilisation since the Second World War is being hampered by shortages of staff, equipment and training, firefighters have claimed.

Fire services have been heavily involved in the flood crisis. Credit: PA Wire

The Fire Brigade Union said it was becoming clear that "serious budget restrictions" caused by cuts were creating problems such as understaffed operations, a lack of equipment and inadequate training, which were creating greater risk for firefighters and the public during the flood crisis.

The union said the it was a collating reports of problems from members involved in the huge number of rescues and evacuations since the severe weather hit.

Read: 'Largest deployment of fire & rescue since WWII'