Humberside Fire warn “we should be prepared for more heatwaves”

After Pocklington hit record temperatures of 39C on Tuesday 18th July and wild fires were reported across the UK, there is a stark warning that we should be prepared for more heatwaves in the future.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are planning for current and arising risks, including the impacts of changes to our climate and the increased demands resulting from warmer summers and wetter winters.

The situation across the UK on the 18 and 19 July is a stark warning that we should be prepared
for more heatwaves in the future. As part of its Community Risk Management Plan,
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) plans for current and arising risks, including the
impact of changes to our climate and the increased demands resulting from warmer summers
and wetter winters.

Chris Blacksell Chief Fire Officer, said following recent events: “As the UK and other countries
experienced record-breaking heatwaves, several fire services, including Humberside Fire and Rescue Service declared major incidents in response to the number of 999 calls relating to the increase in temperatures.

“Our staff worked incredibly hard and in challenging conditions. I’m so proud of their dedication
to making sure our communities remain safe during this heatwave, which is becoming a
common occurrence. Our crews responded to 3.5 times more than the average number of
incidents for a Monday and Tuesday. Our Control Room staff received an unprecedented
number of 999 calls and ensured crews and officers were deployed to incidents across the
region.

“The increased temperatures present a completely different environment where fires burn with
such ferocity and spread with such speed. The demand for firefighters and resources across the
country meant neighbouring fire services were just as busy as we are, and so on and so on. I
want to reassure our communities that we were able to maintain our response to the
increasing number of calls and provide a great service that constantly achieves its response
standards, and this is testimony to our staff’s hard work and commitment.

“However, the impact of climate change which has been only too obvious in recent days, means
that the government should take seriously how stretched all fire services across the UK have
been over the last few years and question whether there are enough resources to ensure the
UK is resilient for future years. The last couple of days suggests that at the moment that can in
no way be guaranteed.

“Since 2010/11 HFRS has had to deliver efficiencies of £11M in response to funding reductions
from the government and this is equivalent to £15M in today’s money. Over this period, we
have had to absorb pay and price inflation pressures that have impacted the Service and we are
compounded by the government limit of 2% on the amount we can increase local taxation by.
As most of our costs are on staff it has naturally meant we can’t afford to employ as many staff
as we used to over a decade ago.”

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