Flood investigation team - first in the country
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is set to become the first fire Service in the country to investigate the cause of flooding.
The Service has teamed up with Essex County Council's flood and water management team under the banner Essex Flood and Water Management Alliance.
The newly formed partnership will help reduce incidents of flooding in the County by finding the cause of floods and then working with communities to fix the problems which have led to streets and homes becoming water logged.
Chief Fire Officer David Johnson explained: “At the moment the fire service doesn't have a statutory duty to respond to flooding incidents, although we do, and because of that it doesn't play a large role in our community safety activity.
“Flooding has a far greater impact on communities than fires or road collisions. A flooding incident will affect a lot more people than if you have a single house fire. People don't tend to prepare for flooding, 80% of households have a smoke detector but people on the whole do not have a flood risk plan in place. Flooding is unexpected and it can cause devastation to communities.
“We already investigate fires and road accidents so it makes sense that we investigate flooding, establish the cause and work to correct that and drive down incidents of flooding.
“On an awful lot of occasions flooding is caused simply because a culvert is blocked or something which should have been cleared up hasn't been and it is blocking the drainage system. If we can help communities to establish those causes and then do something to rectify them then it will prevent future flooding.”
The scheme will not have any additional costs and will simply become part of the everyday work carried out by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
“It will not cost anything, we will be using our existing resources,” explained CFO Johnson. We have been very successful through our community safety activities in driving down fires – our call rates are down 50% over the last 10 years, but we haven't had an impact on the rate of flooding so what we need to do now is use our capacity to drive down the risk of flooding.
“The only reason we are able to do this is because Essex County Council's flood team have done such a fantastic job, they are the best in the country. Because of the information they have we know where may flood in the event of heavy rainfall.
“By working together we will both be able to achieve much more than we could have on our own. We hope that this partnership will see us having the same success in driving down incidents of flooding as we have had in preventing fires.”