(October 13th) MP Holly Lynch attended Halifax Sailing Club with Chief Fire Officer John Roberts and Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Judith Hughes to see the new equipment in action. The MP and Chair donned wet suits and played the role of a casualty in a water rescue.

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The investment in flood response equipment will benefit not only the people of West Yorkshire should the region ever experience a repeat of the Boxing Day floods of 2015, but as a national asset the new boats could be deployed anywhere in the country with WYFRS’ swift water rescue crews to assist areas hit by flooding.

Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is delighted to receive this substantial investment in flood response boats, supporting vehicles and equipment. “Whilst we hope the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 never happen again, we are better prepared to deal with the consequences. “We have previously deployed crews to other areas of the country such as Cumbria and Wiltshire when they have been overcome by flooding and these new assets will enhance our ability to support fellow fire and rescue services in a major flood incident.”

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Chair of the Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Judith Hughes said: “The Fire Service has undertaken a considerable amount of work since the 2015 floods to review its flood response capability and work with partners to carry out training exercises with our counterparts in local authority emergency planning teams.”

The Boxing Day floods of 2015 devastated areas of West Yorkshire and tested the Fire Service with 92 flood related incidents and 117 rescues carried out – mostly in the Leeds and Calderdale area. Councillor Hughes added: “We are immensely proud of our firefighters’ actions that day and their determined efforts to keep people safe. By bolstering our provision of flood response assets we are ensuring our crews are equipped with the very best provisions should the same happen again.

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“The Fire Authority is committed to providing the best possible equipment for our crews and as such we chose to make this investment.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “As the Shadow Floods Minister, I welcome this important investment which will ensure that our communities are better protected against future flooding. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue were instrumental in delivering the rescue and clean-up operations during the 2015 Boxing Day Floods and this new range of equipment will enable them to respond to a wider range of incidents. I will be working in Westminster to ensure other fire and rescue services are similarly equipped.”

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said: “The Council and other organisations continue to work together to be as prepared as possible for any future flooding. The new equipment is a great boost and will help improve Calderdale’s ability to respond to incidents. People will be able to see the boat in action during Operation Calderdale17 on 20 October. This is the Council’s second major training exercise to rehearse the action that would be taken during and after a flood, as part of the whole borough’s continued learning.”

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Flood response and swift water rescue project.

Total spend - £550k (approximately)

  • Rastrick Fire Station – New VW Transporter van with powered boat and trailer. VW Crafter support vehicle.
  • Bingley Fire Station – New VW Transporter van with powered boat and trailer. VW Crafter support vehicle.
  • Technical Recue (Fire Service Headquarters) – New powered boat and trailer.
  • Stanningley Fire Station – Two High Volume Pump support vehicle.
  • Leeds and Ossett fire stations – Two flood response vehicles with two non-powered boats (one for each station) and associated equipment.
  • Rothwell Fire Station – New rescue sleds and associated equipment.
  • Todmorden Fire Station - conversion of the wildfire unit to also carry flood rescue equipment, as well as enhanced water rescue training for all crews based here.
  • New radio equipment to all water crews to improve communication at flooding incidents.
  • Logistical stock of dry suits in each district to allow personnel to change kit if it gets damaged/contaminated therefore allowing crews to remain available for prolonged incidents.
  • Also all our rescue sleds have been replaced with a newer updated version - two per station and one for Headquarters.

There are six stations across West Yorkshire that have a water rescue capacity.

All firefighters are trained in water rescue to some degree with 150 trained to a higher level to enter fast moving water and additionally 28 coxswains.#

Since October 2016, WYFRS and Calderdale Council have joint funded a fire officer to work within the Council’s Emergency Planning team in direct response to the devastating 2015 floods. The role has been invaluable in improving the relationship between the council and fire service. Integrating an officer into this team has helped develop the multi-agency approach when dealing with flood situations and other incidents and has also provided increase awareness of capabilities which will enhance the future response to flooding incidents.

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