Flooding can occur suddenly, such as when damage is caused to water infrastructure (reservoirs, drains etc), or over long periods of time, such as during periods of heavy rain. It may also be caused due to a loss of containment and release of water, or coastal flooding by sea water caused by bad weather, high tides and coastal surges. This can lead to people requiring rescue or recovery and ways to ensure they can safely protect their properties and belongings. To achieve this, we work closely with other agencies, utility providers and responders on the Local Resilience Forum and Regional Resilience Forum to plan strategies to protect the local communities and critical national infrastructure.
To help us plan our immediate responses, the Service receives warnings of likely overflows to waterways from the Environment Agency and, where needed, we are able to move equipment and personnel into an area to respond quickly to flooding situations. In addition, our Fire Control also receives advanced warnings of severe weather that could potentially cause localised flooding from the Meteorological Office.
All operational personnel are trained to national standards (Level one ‘Water Awareness’) to enable them to work safely near water. Crews have access to life jackets and throw lines which are carried on all appliances.
In addition personnel from stations across the County have been specially trained and equipped to carry out water rescues where it is necessary to enter the water and recover people trapped by floodwater. Again, training and equipment has been provided to National standards (Level two ‘Water First Responder’).
Firefighters in Fareham have had enhanced training to Level three and Level four water rescue and are the County’s swift water rescue capability. This includes the Water Rescue Unit which carries two powered Avon boats and a variety of associated equipment to allow for swift water rescues using boats, swimming and other rope/specialist techniques. They are also trained in advanced search techniques for persons missing in flood or swift waters.
The Fareham team is also a national resource for DEFRA, providing two separate water rescue teams able to deploy to national incidents during spate conditions such as wide area flooding.
In addition to the equipment carried at Fareham, the three stations that operate RSV’s have also all been trained and equipped to Water First Responder Level Two. These vehicles carry further equipment to carry out rescues of people and animals in water, mud, ice or other unstable ground. Crews often work together with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency mud rescue teams in coastal areas to reach people trapped in unsafe ground.