Fire and Rescue Authorities are to receive £1.8m over the next two financial years to help meet new statutory duties to respond to flooding and water related emergencies
The Cabinet Secretary made the announcement on a visit to the Cardiff International White Water Centre, where South Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel were undertaking water rescue training and gave a demonstration of rescues from vehicles in water, inflatable sled rescues and swift water boat rescues.
Whilst Fire and Rescue Authorities already respond to flooding and inland water rescue incidents using their existing general powers and resources, they are not required to do so. The Cabinet Secretary has therefore signed an Order which will create a statutory duty on the three Fire and Rescue Authorities in Wales to respond to such incidents.
To support the introduction of the new duty, funding has been made available to replace ageing flooding and water rescue equipment, and to purchase a second high volume pump in North Wales.
The Cabinet Secretary said,
“The demonstration of water rescue skills here today clearly shows the dedication and professionalism of our firefighters. As a result of their excellent work, we have been hugely successful in reducing the risk of fire in Wales.
“Flooding can be just as hazardous as fire, and more wide-ranging. It can devastate whole communities, threaten widespread casualties, and destroy property and the environment. We need to be sure that our fire services will be ready to respond – and our firefighters need to know what is expected of them. This is why I have created a new duty on our fire and rescue services to respond to flooding or water rescue incidents which pose a direct threat of death or injury.
“They also need the equipment to do this safely and effectively. I am therefore also pleased to announce an extra £1.8 million over this financial year and the next, to enhance and update the boats, pumps and protective gear that our fire services need.”
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Huw Jakeway said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to Cardiff International White Water and for him to see our dedicated crews in action, as part of their ongoing training programme when it comes to water rescues. For us as Fire and Rescue Services in Wales, keeping our communities and firefighters safe in and around the water has always been a priority and the new funding for equipment, over the next two financial years, will enable us to continue to serve our communities to the highest standard.”