Shropshire firefighters called to West Country floods

Shropshire firefighters were called out to help colleagues tackle serious floods which swept the West Country.

A total of 20 “on call” firefighters from Shrewsbury, Baschurch, Prees, Clun and Craven Arms used the county’s High Volume Pump appliance in Weston Super Mare to join colleagues from Avon and Somerset and South Wales in fighting the flood waters.

A leading Shropshire firm, which employs four retained firefighters, was praised for allowing them to leave work “at a minute’s notice” to answer the emergency call.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer John Redmond today contacted manager Matthew Bulley at Caterpillar Shrewsbury Ltd to personally thank the company for its “unwaivering support” to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“80 per cent of our county firefighters are retained which means they work in other jobs and answer their page alarms whenever they go off to react to an emergency,” said Mr Redmond.

“We received a call from Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service for our help to deal with their severe flooding and we immediately sent our High Volume Pump unit and our trained crews.

“We are grateful to all the many companies and organisations which assist us in the same way as Caterpillar Shrewsbury to help us provide our service. Without the backing from companies like them we would not have a fire and rescue service in Shropshire.”

Matt Parker (24), who builds Land Rover engines for Caterpillar Shrewsbury, arrived at the Lancaster Road firm at 8.15am to immediately answer the call to get to Telford by 9am to join a team of eight on their way to Weston Super Mare.

He arrived with Caterpillar Shrewsbury colleagues Richard Taylor and Glenn Willis, who are all retained firefighters at Baschurch with their workmate Michael Shellis, who did not attend.

They travelled down by minibus to relieve firefighting colleagues from Shrewsbury and Prees who had gone down the day before with the pumping unit which can pump 7,000 litres of water every minute a total distance of 3km. In Worle, fire crews pumped the water a total of 5km using two High Volume Pump Units.

The highly trained Shropshire crew took more than 13 hours to pump water out of a field to prevent it flooding homes in a cul de sac in the village of Worle.

“When the locals found out that we had left work in Shropshire at a minute’s notice to get to Weston Super Mare, they were amazed and thanked our bosses at Caterpillar for letting us go,” said Matt, a firefighter for five years.

“Matt Bulley, EAME Product Manager at Caterpillar Shrewsbury Ltd, which employs more than 300, said: “Retained firefighters perform a vital job in their communities and we are extremely proud that our employees were able to help alleviate people’s distress during these difficult circumstances.

“Our retained firefighter policy ensures that our employees and agency workers are able to respond quickly to the needs of their local communities without worrying they will incur any financial penalty.

“In this case, the three workers were immediately given permission to travel to Weston Super Mare to spend the day assisting with the flood recovery efforts.

“In return for this flexibility our business benefits from the highly trained, engaged and motivated employees who return to us and use their experiences to help us continuously improve our site’s fire security.

“In line with Caterpillar’s policy of supporting the communitieswithin which we operate, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service by ensuring our workers are available when needed.”

Caterpillar Shrewsbury uses a range of remanufacturing technologies to clean, refurbish, reassemble and update a wide variety of engines and components.

27th November, 2012