Launch of new flooding and water rescue equipment to support Welsh fire and rescue servicesPosted
Across the whole of Wales, firefighters were called to almost 2000 flooding and water related incidents over the last three years. Today saw the three fire and rescue services in Wales launching new equipment funded by the Welsh Government to support crews at flooding and water rescues.
Flooding is an issue of increasing public concern and whilst working to mitigate the risk of flooding it is important to be ready to respond when it materialises. In April last year, the Welsh Government introduced a new duty on fire and rescue services to respond to flooding and water rescue emergencies, with £1.8m funding provided over two years to meet the new duty.
As part of this, 16 inflatable powerboats have been purchased and delivered to locations across Wales. Water rescue personal protective equipment (PPE) has also been procured to refresh the current issue in all three services, which in some cases has been in operation since 2004.
This capital funding from the Welsh Government has also enabled North Wales Fire and Rescue Service to procure a new High Volume Pump (HVP) which will provide regional and national resilience. In addition, the financial commitment has provided the opportunity for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to procure six new water incident units which will also provide support to local, regional and national incidents.
Darren Jones, Head of Technical Support for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This Welsh Government funding has enabled us to invest in the highest specification of equipment which will benefit the Welsh flood response. “The procurement process for the new equipment required collaboration between the three fire and rescue services in Wales and brought together experts not only from within the services, but also other partner agencies such as the RNLI, who have relevant skills and knowledge.
“The powerboat trial was a good example of how procurement was guided by end user engagement. As a result, our new powerboats prioritise firefighter safety; they will offer better performance and resilience at large flooding events and improved and safer boat handling, with reduced maintenance. They also take into account environmental considerations and are a more robust resilient vessel to future proof the Welsh response to flooding incidents.
“High Volume Pumps (HVPs) have enhanced the capabilities for the fire and rescue services nationally, regionally and locally, mitigating the effects of flooding as evidenced in incidents across Wales and the rest of the UK. "The new HVP is compatible with the current HVPs in the rest of the UK to ensure consistency in approach for operational and training purposes, as well as for interoperability at regional and national events.
“With all this change comes improved public safety when responding to calls for assistance. “The new equipment will improve the capabilities and safety of personnel, giving us the best resources to help us protect the communities of Wales.” Station Manager Carwyn Thomas, Research & Development Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As the role of the Fire and Rescue Service continues to evolve, we must provide our firefighters with the very best equipment to protect them when they are called upon to protect you.
“In the last three years, MAWWFRS have attended over 180 water related incidents where persons have been rescued. “All of our swift water rescue teams will be equipped to respond to water rescue incidents, using the new rescue boats, by May 2018 along with our new Flood and Water Rescue Units, which will transport the new power boats to and from incidents.”
Jan Bushell, Station Manager Operational Appliances and Equipment Team and project lead for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, added: “The extensive, end user driven trials involving all three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales has ensured the best performing appliances, equipment and PPE have been selected; enabling welsh firefighters to respond to water rescue incidents as safely and effectively as possible.
“The successful collaboration between the three Services in Wales is an excellent example of how combining resources can result in improved operational response and enhanced firefighter safety while still ensuring best value.” Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies said: “We provided this investment to ensure our fire services can continue to evolve and respond to threats such as flooding.
I’m pleased to see that the services have collaborated to obtain value for money and to ensure our dedicated firefighters have the best possible equipment to protect our communities.”