Fire Control and firefighters praised after flooding sees huge spike in calls

Fast-acting firefighters and call handlers have been praised for their quick response to flooding – after it caused a huge 141 per cent increase in calls.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) saw a staggering spike in demand on Sunday afternoon after flash flooding hit the region.

Roads were left impassable, properties were flooded and rail tracks were submerged in water, on what was one of the busiest days of the year for the transport network.

The extreme weather left thousands of participants in the Great North Run stranded at the finish line in South Shields along with their family and friends.

While staff in the TWFRS Fire Control received 100 calls in just three hours – more than double the same period in the previous Sunday at a 141 per cent increase.

They also responded to Tyne Dock Metro Station where they assisted Nexus staff in pumping water from the tracks and created barriers to prevent water accessing the station.

Today (Monday) those staff involved in the fire service response have been praised by senior fire officers, and multi-agency partners.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath, who will take over as Chief Fire Officer of TWFRS next month, said the Service had to prioritise “life at risk” calls.

He said: “Extreme flooding like we saw on Sunday is rare and it is very difficult to prepare infrastructure to cope with the volume of rain we saw in such a short period of time.

“The surge in calls we received in our Fire Control room meant we had to prioritise life at risk calls, and those incidents that were causing the greatest disruption to the region.

“Many commercial and residential properties suffered flooding, while roads and rail networks were impassable. We know the impact that had on the Great North Run in particular.

“We worked closely with all our partners and were able to use the equipment we had to pump water from some of those locations to get people moving and get them home.

“I want to say how proud I am of both our Fire Control staff, and our firefighters, for their response on what was an incredibly busy day for the Service.

“We know that this may come as little consolation to those who were caught up in the flooding but I know the actions of our staff helped keep the public safe.

“They were also able to allow our partners to get the transport network moving again and it demonstrated how we will always step up when our communities need us.”

Interim Managing Director at Nexus, Cathy Massarella, said: “Our team of employees and volunteers, our partners at Stadler, the Tyne and Wear Fire Service, South Tyneside Police and St John’s Ambulance all worked together to get trains running again after Sunday’s flooding, directing crowds and providing support to those who were tired, weary and vulnerable. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone for their tenacity, energy and positivity throughout.”

TWFRS Fire Control received 99 calls between 3pm and 6pm on Sunday (September 10th) which compared to 41 calls over the same time period on the previous Sunday, September 3rd.