- 4 updates
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:
Unprecedented cuts in funding are "severely jeopardising" the fire service's ability to cope with the floods effectively, the Fire Brigade Union has suggested.
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".
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
The fire service's biggest mobilisation since the Second World War is being hampered by shortages of staff, equipment and training, firefighters have claimed.
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.