From fires to flood warnings – after the heatwave, West Midlands Fire Service prepares for thunderstorms

After a busy weekend heatwave for our firefighters, Fire Control staff and support teams, we prepare for thunderstorms across the region.

newsmode

News

Reading time approx: < 1 minute
Published on 16 August 2022

Extreme weather challenges faced by firefighters and control staff.

As the West Midlands cools down, post-heatwave, West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) forward planning never stops – with potential thunderstorms now on the cards.  

The Met Office is warning that the storms could bring flooding, because the baked ground will be unable to soak up intense rainfall.

But WMFS’s fire and rescue crews, control room staff and specialist teams – including water rescue experts – will be available 24/7.

The conurbation faced a second summer heatwave over the weekend (12-14 August), with temperatures reaching the mid-thirties in places.

As ever, firefighters, fire control teams and support staff did an outstanding job keeping communities safe in challenging and arduous conditions.

A firefighter holding a hole reel jet extinguishing a grass fire

From 8pm on Friday to 8pm on Sunday, Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control took just over 1,700 calls. They mobilised fire crews to 463 incidents across the two fire service areas. 

In the West Midlands, 214 outdoor fires were attended – in addition to ‘business as usual’ incidents.

Incidents of note over the weekend included:  

  • a fire on Barr Beacon Hill, which started on Friday and needed crews to attend regularly until Monday morning 
  • a fire at a high-rise block on Broad Street, Birmingham on Sunday, which is believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette. Six fire crews responded and nearly 200 residents were temporarily displaced 
  • a severe house fire in Kingswinford, which led to a road closure while the incident was brought under control.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in any of these incidents.

Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) Chief Fire Officer said “Our crews, fire control and support staff did an amazing job under challenging conditions. We’re also grateful to our communities for their diligence in reporting incidents to us, and being mindful of not having bonfires and barbeques, to reduce the risk of outdoor fires and possible call outs.  

“I’d also like to thank our emergency services colleagues at West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service, as well as partners such as the local councils, who supported our crews throughout the heatwave. 

“The number of incidents we attended was very high. Clearly, the incident in Birmingham on Sunday, caused by a discarded cigarette, underlines the importance of being responsible and the consequences when this isn’t the case, particularly in hot weather. 

“A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms is still in place, and our crews and teams across the service remain ready, willing and able to support our communities in the event of flooding or other incidents.”

The Met Office thunderstorms warning runs until midnight tonight (Tues 16 Aug).  

Extremely dry after very little rainfall over recent weeks means surface flooding is likely. Members of the public should be vigilant and consider things like safe stopping distances on wet roads, as well as avoiding flood water.

You can find out more about what to do if you, or someone you know, suffers flooding on our dedicated flooding page.