LESSONS have not been learned from previous flooding disasters, firefighters warned yesterday as many have yet again been deployed across the country to deal with dangerous weather.
The Met Office has issued 192 flood warnings and alerts across Britain for this weekend amid the potential of a tidal surge on the east coast.
And the Environment Agency (EA) has issued 17 severe warnings — which imply a danger to life — with Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex most under threat.
Thousands of residents have been evacuated in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where warnings of life-threatening floods are in place.
Last year the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned there was a lack of dry suits for firefighters to use when tackling the floods in December 2015.
Many firefighters found themselves working in cold water for hours at a time wearing fire kit instead of proper flood rescue waterproof clothing, the union said.
And the FBU is warning that lessons have not been learned with many brigades crippled by a lack of resources.
Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters are the consummate professionals who are leading the emergency response on flooding. They will be working tirelessly to keep the public safe and responding to a huge number of incidents.
“At times like these, it is particularly apparent how important a fully resourced fire and rescue service is.
“It is yet another reason why the government should be giving the fire and rescue service a statutory duty to respond to flooding as already exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
Fire and rescue services are deploying boats, tactical advisers, flood rescue teams, high volume pumps and command units to tackle the flooding.
So far, 15 fire and rescue services have mobilised teams into the affected areas including 10 rescue boats, seven high-volume pumps and nine flood rescue tactical advisers.
Police and military resources, including around 200 troops, have also been deployed to assist in Great Yarmouth.
Suffolk Police have identified around 1,880 properties at risk.
EA national duty manager Mark Sitton-Kent said: “The combination of gale-force winds, high tides, dangerous waves carrying rocks and a coastal surge means parts of the east coast are extremely dangerous.”
Floods Minister Therese Coffey added: “Our absolute priority is protecting lives, homes and businesses from the serious threat of coastal flooding currently facing the east coast.”