News release text
Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis, has personally thanked fire crews who worked around-the-clock over the Christmas period, during the worst flooding the county has seen in decades.
Mr Lewis made a special visit to Larkfield Fire Station in New Hythe Lane yesterday afternoon, to meet with firefighters who worked tirelessly in taking hundreds of calls for assistance and helping rescue stranded homeowners and motorists during the floods that swamped many parts of the county last month.
Mr Lewis said: “It’s great to meet and thank the team, particularly some of the crews who put in blood, sweat and tears over Christmas, going above and beyond the call of duty for the community. This is exactly what’s great about the fire service, they are a credit to the service and the community.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s control room received hundreds of calls and firefighters attended numerous incidents across the county, working for long hours in very bad weather conditions. Over the holiday period KFRS attended over 300 incidents as a result of the storms. They included a family with a baby trapped in their car by floodwater on Christmas Eve, residents who had to be evacuated by boat from their flooded homes and many incidents involving trees and chimneys that had collapsed in the storms. On Christmas Eve alone there were 152 incidents dealt with and over 550 calls to the joint Fire and Police control room, the majority about flooding and storm damage.
Nick Chard, Chairman of the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We are grateful that Mr Lewis has taken time out of his busy schedule to thank the control operators and firefighters who worked relentlessly over the Christmas period to help residents whose homes were flooded or people who were trapped in their vehicles by floodwater. Our top priority was to get people to safety and then to work with our partner agencies on the subsequent clean-up operation, to get people’s lives and businesses back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Note to editors
Photos of the Fire Minister’s visit to Larkfield Fire Station are available at www.kentfirephotos.co.uk image numbers: 5536, 5537 and 5538.
KFRS water safety and rescue crews with boats, special equipment and dry suits worked alongside HM Coastguard and Kent Police to rescue people trapped by floodwater. The focus was Little Venice Caravan Park on Christmas Eve and Yalding on Christmas Day.
Over the holidays KFRS carried out 134 rescues including 75 on Christmas Eve and 52 on Christmas Day
KFRS crews attended many other weather related incidents in other parts of the county including rescuing a man who had climbed a tree to escape flood water in Leigh, a family with a baby trapped in their car by floodwater on Christmas Eve and a man trapped in his vehicle by flood water by Teston Bridge near Maidstone.
During the rescue and evacuation operation at Yalding on Christmas Day a KFRS senior operational manager, command unit and support crew were also in the village to manage and co-ordinate water rescue work.
Over the holiday period KFRS attended 770 incidents. Over 330 were weather related, mostly between 23- 25 December, though there was another increase in calls on New Year’s Day.
Between 23 December and 7 January KFRS received 1,659 calls. Almost two thirds were between 23-25 December and 82% of those were weather-related.
All KFRS firefighters have had water safety training. They mobilised specialist vehicles such as our water safety units with boats 98 times during the period.
During the recovery phase, KFRS continued to work alongside partners to support communities by pumping out homes and cellars in the worst affected areas including Yalding, East Peckham and Tonbridge and visiting other areas to offer safety advice.
KFRS Community Safety and Vulnerable Persons teams door knocked homes in worst affected areas ,as part of a wider local community response, to check on welfare, checking if people had access to a hot meal, safety around use of portable heaters, use of candles and bogus callers