mac harris shropshire medal floodsFirefighter Mac Harris contributed his 25 years experience in forming part of Shropshire's contribution to the national resilience force battling the major flooding over the past month.

Harris (pictured receiving his long-service medal from Shropshire's Lord Lieutenant) was one of 12 highly trained tactical advisors from across the country to play a key role in the emergency, advised Berkshire's Assistant Chief Fire Officer about where to deploy pumps as part of the top level gold command at Reading fire HQ.

Fire chiefs have praised the impressive co-ordination of all 50 High Volume Pumps (HVP) from across the country - including one from Prees which was one of the first to be introduced in the UK 18 years ago.

"We identified areas where we could move water out of flooded homes and helped to protect a sewage treatment centre and power station to ensure they were not flooded," said retained support officer Harris, who also visited flood sites to advise on the situation.

"The people of Berkshire were wonderful. They were really appreciative of what we were doing. The Army also worked incredibly hard.

"It was amazing that all 50 of the country's High Volume Pumps were deployed. But it didn't matter whether a firefighter was from Prees or Preston. We are all trained to a high level and all worked together extremely well."

Further reading: FRS flood teams praised by CFOA president

While SO Harris was involved in the deployment of HVPs, several on-call fire crews from Shropshire left their work and families at short notice to be part of the largest mobilisation of the UK's fire and rescue services since the Second World War.

Crews worked day and night in Reading and Hounslow pumping water from flooded homes and helping with the rescue efforts.

Shropshire responded after a call from the Royal Berkshire and Surrey brigades as part of the nationally co-ordinated flood relief operation.

Shropshire's Chief Fire Officer John Redmond praised on call firefighters, their employers who allowed them time off work and senior fire officers who have been at the scene.

"The experience has been useful for our crews who have made a real difference to people's situation and had an opportunity to rehearse their skills necessary to deal with a wide area of flooding which is something not uncommon here in Shropshire," he said.

Station Manager Carl Franks said the water had been up to 5ft deep in homes in Staines but they had been pumping it out at 7,000 litres a minute. A second Shropshire appliance with a three kilometre length of hose was also being used to send the water into the Thames.

The £40,000 cost of the Shropshire operation to send a crew of 16 will be refunded to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service by the local councils.

Further reading: The March issue of FIRE Magazine will feature an in-depth review of the national resilience response to flooding - click here to subscribe