Flood rescue boats on way for Lincolnshire

LINCOLNSHIRE Fire and Rescue will soon have one of the UK’s largest flood rescue capabilities when it takes delivery of ten new rescue boats in March.

As a result, the number of specially-trained, fully equipped water rescue teams based in the county will increase from one to ten, making Lincolnshire one of the nation’s most prepared areas for flooding.

More than 60 personnel will be put through rigorous training, and equipped with the skills and kit necessary to rescuing people from flowing and still water.

The teams will be placed at fire stations throughout the county, strategically chosen to give the best coverage and response times, 24 hours a day. The exact locations are yet to be determined.

The new craft will be deployed in the event of a major flood, as well as used to carry out search and rescue operations across Lincolnshire.

East coast flooding is one of the biggest threats facing the county. The last time Lincolnshire was inundated was in 1953, when severe storms and high tides caused floodwaters to breach sea defences and claim 41 lives.

Sea defences, warning systems and emergency plans have all improved but the new water rescue teams will add extra resilience to Lincolnshire’s response.

The new vessels are part of a package of equipment and training that has been paid for by a £250,000 government grant, which was awarded to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue last March at the start of the national flood rehearsal, Exercise Watermark.

The money from Defra’s Flood Rescue Grant scheme came after a successful joint bid by Lincolnshire County Council and the fire service in January 2011.

Coun Peter Robinson, executive councillor for community safety at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Flooding, especially from the sea, has been identified as a key risk for Lincolnshire and this extra resource will give us significantly more capacity and expertise to help people should a flood occur.

“Building on the water rescue resources we have now, and those of our partner organisations, we will be better prepared to assist in both local and national flood responses.”

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue will take delivery of the boats in March and phase them into service over the following few months. It is hoped that all ten rescue teams will be fully operational by June this year.

The teams will become part of a national resource that other parts of the country can call on in the event of widespread flooding, such as that seen in the summer of 2007. Lincolnshire will also be able to call on this national resource as part of a mutual aid agreement.