New High Volume Pumps that can provide water or drain an area three times quicker than conventional fire and rescue service pumps are now strategically positioned throughout the country, Fire Minister Angela Smith announced today. The HVPs, funded by Government, were used to good effect during last weekend’s floods.
Since 9/11 (2001) the Government has invested heavily in the Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that it has enhanced capability to deal with major incidents. The Government has spent over £200 million to equip the FRS across England with a wide ranging package of specialist equipment and facilities, part of this being the purchase of High Volume Pumps (HVPs) which were widely used during the past weekend’s flooding.
The HVPs are able to provide water for firefighting at a rate of 7,000 litres of water per minute or remove water from a flooded area quickly. An Olympic size swimming pool could be emptied by a pair of HVPs in 3 hours compared to just over 9 hours with standard equipment. A road tanker containing 28,000 litres (roughly 6,200 gallons) could be emptied by a single HVP in 4 minutes.
The rollout of these across England is complete with 46 HVP sets at strategic locations across the country (England). Paid for by central Government and operated by individual fire and rescue services, they can be called upon to work in the host county, elsewhere in the region or at national scale incidents.
Fire Minister Angela Smith said:
“This enhanced capability for the Fire and Rescue Services around the country has already proved its worth. The most recent example is the flooding in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, and the Buncefield fire will stick in many people’s minds.
“The Fire and Rescue Service is now better equipped than it has ever been to meet the challenges of today’s world with the Government’s investment of £200million in the New Dimension programme. Through this programme the FRS is able to respond to large-scale incidents with state-of-the-art equipment to find people trapped in collapsed buildings, respond to a chemical, biological or radiological attack, as well as the high volume pumps to fight fire and flooding.”
Since the rollout began two years ago (spring 2005) the HVPs have been used at 150 incidents. Until the past weekend’s floods, the most well known incidents were the Carlisle and Glastonbury floods and the fire at Buncefield Oil Depot.
At the weekend where flash flooding was seen across the West Midlands, South, West and North Yorkshire and parts of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Worcester and Hertfordshire the HVPs were used 15 times.
The HVP host FRS called upon during the weekend were: Derbyshire, Hereford & Worcestershire, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, and Gloucestershire was on standby.
The deployment of the HVPs was co-ordinated by the interim FRS National Co-ordination Centre located in West Yorkshire which has responsibility for co-ordinating cross-regional and national mobilisation of New Dimension resources when these are needed to support the FRS response to major emergencies.
At the Buncefield Oil Depot fire in December 2005, 15 HVPs were used to deliver and boost 25,000 litres (roughly 6,000 gallons) of water per minute over a 2 kilometre (just over a mile) distance to specialist foam making equipment on the site. 33 kilometres of 150mm hose from 15 HVPs and 10 hose box modules was used to convey the water from the source to the site of the fire.
Applying foam to extinguish the Buncefield fire also created water run-off which could be harmful to the local environment and at Buncefield 5 HVPs were used to reduce the impact of dirty water run-off into surrounding land and water courses.
A fire at a paper warehouse in east London earlier in 2007 required 3 HVPs to supplement the 20 standard pumps attending. Other fires requiring two HVPs each were sewage treatment plant fire at Minworth, Staffordshire in summer 2006; Hoo, Kent where waste tanks on fire in autumn 2006; and a chemical fire in Crewe, Cheshire in early 2007.
For the Carlisle floods in January 2005, 9 HVPs and 1 hose box were successfully used to remove floodwater which re-opened a number of major roads across the city helping the community to return to normality sooner.
But timely use can prevent disaster. At Heaton Park Reservoir, Manchester, pumps were used to reduce the water capacity in the leaking bank before the arrival of the underwater repair team (divers).
Throughout the country 255 HVP instructors have been trained to teach operational fire crews how to operate the equipment and 240 representatives from across police and ambulance services, the Environment Agency and emergency planning, have been familiarised with the capabilities of the High Volume Pump.