The effect climate change is having on Fire and Rescue Services. -19002

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Ref: FOI/19002

RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST

I am writing to confirm that the West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information you requested on 8th January 2019

Please find below a summary of our findings.

Request

I am requesting information regarding the effect climate change is having on Fire and Rescue Services. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, could you please answer the following questions

1)         Area covered and areas specifically at risk to:

–           Wildfire

–           Flooding

–           Drought

Reply

West Midlands Fire Service covers all of West Midlands County and provided support the other brigades as and when required.

Request

2)         Incidents

–           How many wildfires occurred?

–           How much area was affected by flooding and how often did it occur?

Reply

This information is exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as this information is reasonably accessible to the requestor. Information concerning wildfires and flooding’s can be found on Environmental Agency website at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Request

How has climate change affected the services latest IRMP?

Equipment and resources?

–      Resources to improve operational response in wildfire?

–      Resources to improve operational response in flooding?

–      What resources were needed to gain access to wildfires?

–      What resources were needed to provide water to wildfires?

–      What other methods were used to extinguish wildfires?

–      How effective were these resources and methods in gaining access to and extinguishing wildfires?

–      What resources and equipment were used to deal with any flooding incidents?

–      What methods were used to deal with any flooding incidents?

–      How effective were the resources and methods in dealing with these flooding incidents?

Staffing

–           What shift patterns do your firefighters work?

–           Did you experience any difficulties with your current staffing systems if the length of the incident lasted over a long-period of time? Eg. Fatigue,

–           How essential were Retained Staffing systems in dealing with these incidents over a long-period?

Reply

Equipment and resources:

Resources to improve operational response in wildfire?

Our Brigade Response Vehicles (BRVs) were introduced in 2013 to ensure we are able to send a response to best match the needs of the incident. The BRVs are able to deal with low risk incidents on their own meaning our Pump Rescue Ladders (Fire appliance) are protected to attend low risk incidents.

Wildfires are not high on West Midland’s Local Resilience Forum Risk Register, WMFS provide a response capability appropriate to the risk within our area. However, although not the primary reason for their introduction, the smaller BRV vehicles provide a 4×4 response that allows us to gain access to hard to reach locations, improving our response to grass and woodland fires.

Resources to improve operational response in flooding?

The High Volume Pumping Units (HVPUs) were introduced as part of the New Dimensions Programme 2001.  This programme was introduced to enhance UK Fire and Rescue Services ability to respond to catastrophics incident such as terrorism and flooding.

In addition to the HVPU, West Midland Fire Service maintains on the run at any one point in time:

  • 2x level 3 flood teams
  • 4x Level 2 flood teams
  • Each Fire appliance (41) is equipped with Personal Flotation devices and Pumps
  • 4 x Aqua Vac units – capable of removing water from flooded premises.

What resources were needed to gain access to wildfires?

BRV’s have off road capability to get to the hard to reach areas and our Pump Rescue Ladders’ carry a number of lengths of hose and hose reels which can be extended.

What resources were needed to provide water to wildfires?

BRV’s have off road capability however carry minimal water supply. PRL’s carry a number of lengths of hose and hose reels which can be extended and could also provide a water relay function, we also can deploy to HVPU to deliver water over large distances.

What other methods were used to extinguish wildfires?

We carry Knapsacks (back pack of water with hose attachment) and Beaters.

How effective were these resources and methods in gaining access to and extinguishing wildfires?

As there is not a significant risk of Wildfires within West Midlands we have not responded to any. However, with the resources outlined above we have been able to provide an effective response to similar incident types such as grass fires and during spate conditions.

What resources and equipment were used to deal with any flooding incidents?

High Volume Pumping Unit

Technical Rescue Unit – Level 3 flood teams

Flood Level 2 teams

Pump Rescue Ladders equipment with PFD’s and Pumps

4 x Aqua Vac units – capable of removing water from flooded premises.

What methods were used to deal with any flooding incidents?

Boat rescue / Wading Rescue / Snatch Rescue / Pumping Out buildings or areas

How effective were the resources and methods in dealing with these flooding incidents?

 

Our response targets and blended fleet mean we are able to provide an assertive, safe, effective and proportionate response to flooding incidents in the West Midlands.

Staffing:

What shift patterns do your firefighters work?

2-2-4 (2 days, 2 nights & 4 off)

0800-1800 Day

1800-0800 Night

Did you experience any difficulties with your current staffing systems if the length of the incident lasted over a long-period of time?

No – we have a relief system in place to guard against this.

Request

Have you had to adapt or introduce any specific operational training in order to improve the operational response to wildfires?

–           Have you had to adapt or introduce any specific operational training in order to improve the operational response to flooding?

–           Have you had to adapt or introduce any specific operational training in order to improve the operational response to droughts?

Reply

Have you had to adapt or introduce any specific operational training in order to improve the operational response to flooding?

We have not had to adapt or introduce any additional training in the three areas specified, although:

  • L2 Water PPE has recently been upgraded to DEFRA standard
  • L1 & L2 Water knowledge packages and assessment must be completed every 12 months for the individuals who are in the relevant posts.

All WMFS water packages and assessments have recently been reviewed and updated in-line with NOG (DEFRA).

HVP capability crews are all trained and assessed in-line with National Resilience framework which is assured (technically and practically) on a three-year programme by NRAT. We currently have two qualified HVPi’s at Sheldon who delivers and assess the NR training.

 

Have you had to adapt or introduce any specific operational training in order to improve the operational response to droughts?

The only change to frontline appliances is the introduction of water knapsacks which allow for water application without the use of a fireground pump, these were introduced after our last spate conditions to allow for a more reactive and effective method of water usage and application, these Knapsacks are positioned on fleet more adaptive to open ground fires such as our BRV’s and appliances with large open areas such as Sutton Park.

I hope that this information meets the needs of the freedom of information request if you have any further questions please do get in touch with me.

Request

Fire and Rescue Policy

–           What is the FRS policy statement with regards to Climate change.

Reply

Please see attached.  Enviromental and Sustainability Strategy

Request

Business continuity

–           Has climate change affected the way you manage business continuity management strategies?

Reply

Our business continuity arrangements already consider consequences which may be associated with climate change e.g. as a result of increased severe weather events. Therefore we have business continuity plans in place for a range of consequences and these consequences have not been affected by climate change.

If you have any queries about this Freedom of Information request, please contact me.  Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision please write to The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW

Further information concerning Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Information Commissioner website at either the following link: https://ico.org.uk/ or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF.

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