Fire and Rescue Service staff across Wales have shown exceptional professionalism and dedication to assist their communities following two successive storms in just over a week, resources have been extremely stretched with staff being recalled to duty for hours on end to assist their colleagues.
These storms have seen an exceptional increase in the number of emergency calls to our fire controls across Wales, with control staff providing critical life saving advice, support and resilience during this busy time. The calls included requests for assistance at house fires, road traffic collisions, dangerous structures, fallen trees, rescues from flooding, pumping of water from premises and animal rescues.
The three Chief Fire Officers in Wales acknowledged that each of the two control rooms in Wales have provided an essential role in co-ordinating the deployment of critical assets across Wales to where they were most needed and for providing emergency survival and safety guidance to the public. It is at times like these that the investment in technology to join up the joint control rooms in North and South Wales provides the greatest benefit. Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said that “recent events had demonstrated the intense demands placed on each Service during periods of adverse weather” and praised the resilience arrangements implemented across the three Services in Wales to manage those calls for help.
Operational crews have worked tirelessly in very difficult and demanding conditions to provide assistance to the public wherever required, with many staff coming back to work whilst off duty to assist their communities in such a professional manner. Support staff also ensured that crews had the necessary kit and equipment to ensure crews could provide the best service possible to the people of Wales. Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway, of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, commended his staff’s professionalism, dedication and commitment during such challenging weather conditions, especially as many will have been subject to adverse weather issues at their own home. He also commented that “it never ceases to amaze me how willingly and enthusiastically our staff respond in times of wide spread emergency, putting into effect the extensive training that they undertake in a wide range of scenarios. Our paramount concern is assisting the public on one of their worst days.”
The storms have required a co-ordinated approach from so many partners and the three Chief Fire Officers acknowledged their staffs’ positive working, especially with other emergency services and public sector partners to ensure the people of Wales remained as safe as possible. Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies, from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, stated that “the partnership working arrangements in place with our colleagues in the Police, Welsh Ambulance Service and those from other public sector organisations such as Natural Resources Wales and our Local Authorities have ensured that emergency assistance was provided to local communities worst affected first.”
These two storms in a week shows that environmental change is upon us and that as the Welsh Fire and Rescue Services we are prepared for this changing risk. The traditional role of our Services has changed over the years and the three Fire and Rescue Authorities have prepared and invested in reducing this change in risk.