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Fire chief thanks crews from across country and Norfolk firefighters for ‘slick’ response

PUBLISHED: 13:13 14 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:51 15 January 2017

Rescue workers make their way into Walcott, near Great Yarmouth, as the east of England is hit by a storm surge. Picture: JOHN GILES/PA

Rescue workers make their way into Walcott, near Great Yarmouth, as the east of England is hit by a storm surge. Picture: JOHN GILES/PA

Chief fire officer David Ashworth said one of the lessons Norfolk fire service learned from the 2013 storm surge and its aftermath was to request help from other brigades.

Fire at Regent Superbowl in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Pictured: Assistant chief fire officer David Ashworth. PICTURE: ANTONY KELLY Fire at Regent Superbowl in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. Pictured: Assistant chief fire officer David Ashworth. PICTURE: ANTONY KELLY

Full-time and retained firefighters from across Norfolk stood by as high water neared on Friday, supported by crews from as far afield as the Midlands and South Wales. Fortunately, their services were not needed as the forecast gales failed to materialise, so the tides did not breach defences.

“I was really pleased with how it went,” said Mr Ashworth. “We plan for the worst and hope for the best. We learned a lot from our experiences of 2013, so the whole thing was a lot slicker than it was last time.”

Storm surge in Sheringham Storm surge in Sheringham

Mr Ashworth said information provided by the Environment Agency enabled resources to be directed to areas most at risk from Friday night’s high tide.

“Thanks to their information, we were able to get everything in place,” he said. “We’re thankful for the support from other services, which was part of a nationally co-ordinated response.”

The tide spills onto Wells Quay leaving the Albatros surrounded by water. But the sea did not breach the town's defences. Picture: Chris Bishop The tide spills onto Wells Quay leaving the Albatros surrounded by water. But the sea did not breach the town's defences. Picture: Chris Bishop

Crews travelled to Norfolk from Warkwickshire, Shropshire, the West Midlands, Hereford and Worcester, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and South Wales.

They included eight swift water rescue teams with four tactical advisers, two high-volume pumps with two tactical advisers and advanced logistical support.

The storm surge that hit Southwold in December 2013. Picture: DAVID ANDREWS The storm surge that hit Southwold in December 2013. Picture: DAVID ANDREWS

“Virtually every resource in Norfolk contributed in one way or another last night,” said Mr Ashworth. “We had people who remained on duty and people who came in who were off-duty. I’m grateful for all the effort Norfolk fire service personnel have put in over the last couple of days.”
Norfolk fire service requested assistance via the London Fire Brigade, which co-ordinates national response, on Thursday.

Mr Ashworth, who took over as Norfolk’s chief fire officer after Roy Harold retired in November, said one of the lessons learned from the 2013 storm surge was when to request national resource.

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