Firefighters call for government to fund emergency flood response in wake of Storm Henk

The Fire Brigades Union is calling for urgent resources for the fire service in the wake of flooding caused by Storm Henk.

Large areas of England have been left devastated by widespread flooding, with firefighters responding to emergency calls, performing rescues and evacuations.

Nottinghamshire county council declared a major incident on Thursday due to rising levels along the River Trent, stating that water levels “could come close to the highest levels on record from the year 2000”.

Flooding continues to cause disruption and put pressure on fire services across the south of England. Ten fire engines and around 70 firefighters were called to flooding in Hackney, east London, after a canal burst its banks on Thursday.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said:

“When floods threaten people’s homes, lives and livelihoods, it’s firefighters who step in to protect communities. Storm Henk follows a winter of storm after devastating storm – and more is to come. It’s high time that the government woke up to the realities of the climate emergency.

“Shockingly, fire and rescue services in England still don’t have a statutory duty to plan and respond to floods. Instead, we have had more than a decade of cuts, with one in five firefighter jobs lost since 2010. The Westminster government must adequately fund the fire service for flood response, so that firefighters have the resources they need to keep the public safe.”

Adam Taylor, Fire Brigades Union executive council member for the East Midlands said:

“Firefighters are working in extreme conditions across the Midlands, rescuing people and animals at risk from severe flooding. Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire have been hit particularly hard, with the River Trent declared a major incident due to extreme high water levels.

“Fire services in the worst impacted areas are stretched dangerously thin, as we’re seeing in Leicestershire – piling immense pressure on our dedicated firefighters to respond without adequate resources. Flooding is on the rise, and we must have the equipment and emergency crews needed to keep people safe. Our services need urgent funding.”