Fire service calls to water rescues and flooding in Greater Manchester reach nine-year high

National fire service bodies have linked the figures to the impact of climate change.

Fire service call-outs to incidents related to water or flooding are at a nine-year high in Greater Manchester, data shows.

This comes at the same time as analysis by our sister title National World shows a rise across the country in incidents, rescues and casualties from water and incidents linked to flooding,

National fire service organisations have linked the statistics to the impact of climate change and also highlighted the threats staff cuts and a lack of funding pose to their ability to respond.

What does the data show?

A Home Office database of non-fire incidents attended by fire and rescue services in England reveals crews in Greater Manchester attended 554 water rescues or flooding incidents in 2019-20.

This was the highest figure recorded in the region since firefighters attended 614 such incidents in 2010-11.

It was also a considerable rise on the 391 incidents recorded in 2017-18 and the 379 in 2018-19.

There were 13 rescues in 2019-20, up from six in each of the previous two years.

However, the number of incidents involving fatalities or casualties has gone down somewhat, with just two recorded in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Across England as a whole, firefighter callouts to floods reached a seven-year high last year in England, with rescues and casualties at their highest for at least a decade.

The data excludes rescues from settings where swimmers may have gotten into difficulty, such as lakes, rivers, beaches or the sea.

Instead, the data covers the types of incidents that could be affected by extreme weather – in homes, gardens and other buildings or on roads, pavements and from vehicles.

What has been said about the figures?

The Fire Brigades Union said the analysis of rescue data “confirms what firefighters already know – as the effects of climate change increase, flooding is getting worse”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the nation is in “real danger” this winter of seeing “ similar scenes to those in Europe this summer, when dozens of people lost their lives to floods”.

Boris Johnson visits Manchester during wet weather

“Fire and rescue will be a key part of adapting to this element of climate change. Yet at the moment the Government isn’t even providing statutory funding specifically for flooding,” he continued.

“That needs to change. We’ve heard stories of firefighters left without dry suits, or left exposed to microbes in flood waters due to suits not being adequately decontaminated.

“Firefighters being left in a position where they can’t properly fight floods is a danger to them and to the public.

“We also need more sufficient staff to deal with the increases in flooding. Restoring the 20% of firefighters lost since 2010 would be a good place to start.”

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and the Home Office have both been approached for comment.