A Shropshire firefighter has been praised for the key role he played as part of the UK’s national resilience force battling the worst floods to hit the country for years.
Mac Harris, a firefighter for 28 years, was a top advisor to senior fire chiefs dealing with flooding which devastated towns and villages across the country last year.
The Group Support Team Watch Manager, a specialist in flood disasters for the past 11 years, has given strategic advice to gold, silver and bronze commanders in charge of alleviating flood damage to homes and businesses in Berkshire, Worcestershire, Surrey, Cumbria and Lancashire over the past three years.
“People lose everything in the floods. It is devastating for them. Cul des sacs or homes built in dips quickly fill up with water once drains are blocked by the sheer volume of water,” said Mac, from Shrewsbury.
“My specialist role is to calculate how fast and how much water we can move and advise senior fire officers on the best way of getting the flood waters away from the scene as quickly as possible using the resources we have.
“We train regularly and Shropshire firefighters have gone all over the UK to join other firefighters as part of the national resilience team to deal with such emergencies.”
Richard Lawrence, deputy chief fire officer for Hereford and Worcester, who is the lead officer for UK flood response, said he had “sincere gratitude” for the assistance of Watch Manager Mac Harris in his role as Sector Competent Assessor in a recent national audit to test the competency of HVP operators.
Feedback was very positive about the conduct and support of assessors in the audit, he said in a letter to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Shropshire’s Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “ Although Shropshire is one of the smaller Fire and Rescue Services, we are always keen to play our part in keeping the UK safe when major disaster strikes.
“We are pleased and proud to send our commanders and crews to help other communities when they are most in need. It helps the communities and it helps us by making sure our specialists maintain a high level of expertise.
“It’s the dedication of people like Mac, who are willing to put themselves out to stay on the top of their game, that makes all the UK Fire and Rescue Services the first class organisations they are.”
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service was one of the first to introduce Heavy Vehicle Pumps (HVP)20 years ago capable of pumping 7,000 litres of water every minute using three kilometre connecting hoses to transport water long distances away from a flood area.
The county’s HVP appliance is based at Prees Fire Station with firefighters, many of them “on call,” regularly attending training events to be ready for the next UK emergency. They are part of the largest mobilisation of the UK’s fire and rescue services since the Second World War.