A collaboration between the Environment Agency and the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) has resulted in the innovation of a coupling that has the potential to save more lives, land and property across the country.
Developed between the Environment Agency Northumberland, Durham and Tees Field Team, County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service (CDDFRS) and the National Resilience High Volume Pump Capability, the device is known as a ‘hose coupling’, which ensures that the FRS hose’s and Environment Agency pumps used in emergencies are completely compatible, making tackling floods more efficient.
The Environment Agency Field Teams frequently carry out joint attendance at incidents with the FRS. By ensuring the Environment Agency trailer mounted pumps are even more effective by being made fully compatible with FRS hoses through use of the coupling, responding to flooding in the region has become more resilient.
The hose coupling adaptors give the Environment Agency the capability to access the significant quantity of FRS hose across the entire country and increased capability of deploying the equipment during flooding incidents.
Access to the FRS hose means quicker and more efficient deployment of the hose as it can be deployed at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour and the capacity to pump over much greater distances. The quicker response time means there is a reduced risk of flooding.
Alex Murray, Environment Agency Team Leader for Durham and Tees Valley Field Operations, said: ‘’This innovation is an outstanding example of collaboration between two emergency response organisations and as a result, increased resilience in tackling incidents and greater safety for all of our communities.
‘’The North East has a reputation for innovation and whilst the device was developed in this region, the hose coupling will be rolled out nationally, benefiting the whole of the UK.
‘The Environment Agency works closely and continually with the Fire and Rescue Service regionally and nationally, to develop strategies and tactics to defend people and our environment against fires, flooding and pollution’’.
The coupling is now in use nationally, giving the Environment Agency access to thousands of meters of extra hose that is held by the F&RS in strategic locations that would not have been possible before the development of the new devices.
The Environment Agency and the FRS are committed to collaborative working, providing support during an incident, reducing the risk of flooding and increasing communities’ resilience against incidents.
Ian Irving, High Volume Pump (HVP) Capability Officer for the FRS National Resilience Team, said: ‘’ The idea for this coupling was developed at a real incident at Corbridge, Northumberland in 2015 during Storm Desmond. HVP Tactical Adviser Ray Sillito and myself were attending a flooding incident and developed the idea when we saw the EA trailer mounted pumps being set up by the field teams and realised the couplings were not compatible with the ones used on the HVPs.
‘’Together we developed the prototype, operating procedure and planning to have them added to each of the 47 HVPs right across England. The couplings have been on the HVPs since June this year and have already been utilised by various FRS on numerous occasions at fire incidents. The result of this work provides greater resilience for the Environment Agency and shows that collaboration can assist the FRS and partner agencies’’.
This summer, in the unprecedented hot, dry weather across the UK, the new hose coupling devices were used to help tackle the wildfire on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester.
Deputy HVP Capability Lead and CDDFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dominic Brown, continued: “Today’s event showcases the result of what can be achieved when two likeminded organisations work closely together, focussed on the same goals of improving interoperability and our response capabilities. I am very proud of the entire team from both organisations involved in this project because this new equipment will ensure we will all be more effective in our response to flooding and so make a real difference to the community we serve.”
The device will now play a major role in the Environment Agency’s preparations for winter flooding right across the country. The Environment Agency works all year round to protect communities from flooding, from building large flood defence schemes to clearing rivers and responding to flood emergencies with pumps and temporary barriers. The agency has around 6,500 trained staff across the country, ready to respond to flooding, including 500 flood support officers.
For up to date advice on getting ready for winter and the latest flood advice, visit https://floodsdestroy.campaign.gov.uk. You can also sign up for flood warnings at www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings