The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has welcomed the news that fire and rescue services in Wales are to be given a statutory duty to respond to flooding emergencies. It now means England is the only nation in the UK where firefighters do not have a duty to respond to flooding.
The new duty will come into effect in Wales on 1 April 2017. The Welsh Assembly has committed £1.8m in funding to replace ageing flooding and water rescue equipment as well as the purchase of a second high volume pump in North Wales.
Grant Mayos, executive council member of the FBU in Wales, said: “This is excellent news for all the firefighters in Wales and the public they serve.
“We will be better prepared to deal with the devastating effects of flooding as a result of this duty having been adopted.
“It is the result of a long campaign led by the FBU to have flooding recognised as a core component of fire and rescue service work.”
England now becomes the only nation in the UK that does not give firefighters a statutory duty to respond to flooding.
The Conservative government in Westminster have refused to grant the duty in England despite a recommendation from the cross party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee who called for services to be given more resources to tackle flooding.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have been pushing for a statutory duty for nine years now in which time Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have all adopted one. It begs the question, do ministers think it’s acceptable that firefighters in England are not given the same level of resources to help protect communities from flooding?
“The flooding threat continues to grow. It will be people in England who will pay the biggest price if a duty is not adopted soon.”
In a report published earlier this month, the FBU said it would be ‘straightforward’ for ministers to enact the duty in England requiring just a minor change in government legislation.