Firefighters criticise flooding policy

A FIREFIGHTERS' union has called for a rethink on a policy which means crews do not automatically attend all flooding incidents in Suffolk.It comes as the county's branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it feared it would not be able to cope if there was flooding on the scale seen in Sheffield.

A FIREFIGHTERS' union has called for a rethink on a policy which means crews do not automatically attend all flooding incidents in Suffolk.

It comes as the county's branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it feared it would not be able to cope if there was flooding on the scale seen in Sheffield.

The policy means people who report what they see as flooding emergencies to the fire service could be referred to a rescue company if it was not deemed to be a threat to life or if the fire service's equipment cannot help.

But this means the homeowner would have to claim on their insurance for any help they receive.


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But Suffolk County Council - which is responsible for the fire and rescue service in the county - reassured that fire engines would respond if they were needed and if there was ever a threat to life they would go.

Steve Collins, Suffolk secretary of the FBU, said he did not think members of the public were aware that their council tax premium did not cover assistance from firefighters in all instances of flooding.

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He said: “This problem is an issue that needs to be addressed.

“We are not sending to all fire instances so I think if we had something like that in Sheffield we wouldn't be able to deal with that as we haven't got the equipment or the level of training needed.

“We can understand the frustrations of firefighters out there that when this happens they want to help.”

Eddie Meelan, senior divisional officer at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the policy meant that fire engines were no longer sent automatically to every flooding incident reported such as overflowing baths or washing machines.

However floodwater would normally see two officers respond to assess the situation, giving on-scene advice or assistance or referring the incident to the agency.

Around 130 firefighters are currently being trained to a higher level to deal with flooding, for example in the use of inflatable paths over mud.

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