The effect of severe weather and flooding has become a major feature for the Humber region over the past 10 years and it is anticipated that this will worsen over the coming decades. The tidal surge of December 2013, which first affected the East Yorkshire coast, was the highest ever recorded tide level in the Humber estuary and led to around 1100 properties and hundreds of businesses flooding in the area.
Flooding and extreme weather events are likely to be more frequent, as spate weather conditions previously occurring every 25 years are now experienced at six year intervals.
With severe weather and flooding anticipated to become a more regular occurrence, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has unveiled plans for a new flood preparation and response centre. The facility, known as ‘The Ark Project’, will be the first in the UK to recreate domestic flooding scenarios to enable the effective recovery of communities affected by flooding.
The training facility will be a bespoke moving water training centre and it is intended to be housed at Peaks Lane Fire Station in Grimsby. It will consist of a water tank large enough to submerse a vehicle and other hazards in a realistic ‘street-scene’. The new facility will also be able imitate rapids for fast moving water scenarios and enable effective and safe rescue training to be delivered to responders, on call staff and volunteers.
Dene Sanders, Chief Fire Officer at Humberside Fire and Rescue, said, “This new training centre will be used to ensure our own staff are trained to the highest standard by simulating what happens when large scale flooding occurs. It will create a realistic environment for crews to train in water rescue scenarios, whilst simultaneously reducing training costs.”
The Ark Project will be a purpose built facility specifically designed for flooding scenarios and other fire and rescue services across the country will also have the opportunity to train at the centre, which is expected to be built by summer 2015. It will become a centre of regional and national importance as a single point of contact for preparation, planning, resourcing and training for all water related incidents.
When flooding happens, it presents challenges for other organisations who are involved in the response and recovery phases. The new facility will also be used to help partner organisations prepare for the potential risks when responding to flooding. Over 80 delegates from local, regional and national partners attended the launch and were impressed by the potential opportunities for cross-agency working.
The new facility can also be used to help other businesses and organisations consider their business continuity plans and the impact flooding can have on delivering their services.
“Not only will the new centre provide us with an excellent training venue, it will enable us to help our communities by educating them about protecting their homes from flooding. It means we can also assist residents to be better prepared by simulating what actually happens when flooding occurs,” CFO Sanders added.