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Firefighters as busy as Bonfire Night during heatwave, as surging temperatures hit the North East

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service faced demand levels rivalling that of bonfire night as firefighters “all pulled together” to tackle incidents in the extreme heat this week.

By Nic Marko
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 3:11 pm

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Firefighters in the region have been praised for their efforts responding to call outs as the UK was hit by soaring temperatures this week.

The North East saw highs of 38°C as the hot spell reached its peak, with respite from the weather expected to be in short supply until the end of August at the earliest.

And Peter Heath, deputy chief fire officer (DCFO) at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), said his crews should be “rightly proud” of their efforts and preparations for the record temperatures.

Firefighters in Tyne and Wear faced a busy period due to the heatwave.

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He added Monday (July 18) had been a particularly demanding night for TWFRS, with the brigade and “dealing with more calls” than it would expect on Bonfire Night, typically one of the busiest nights of the year.

Mr Heath said: “We managed that peak and that lasted from about mid afternoon through until about [10.30pm], when it started to tail off.

“During that time I don’t think we had a single fire engine sitting in the station for very long, they were all out and it was hard.

“Tyne and Wear has been really stretched, we’ve used every resource we’ve got, every firefighter, control staff, all of the support staff, they have pulled together in the way that we would expect.”

Addressing the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Human Resources Committee on Wednesday (July), he added preparation had ensured “everyone was ready”.

The panel also heard about the impact working in the heat had on firefighters travelling between incidents, with one individual becoming “a bit faint” after working “extremely hard”, but DCFO Heath added they were now “fine and well.”

Ged Bell, a member of the fire authority and Newcastle City Councillor, warned the organisation needs more government funding.

He said: “This may have been extreme circumstances, but there’s going to be more of that, that’s what people have been predicting.

“We’ve had savage cuts, austerity cuts, over the last 10-11 years, and these are having an effect, we’ve got to make sure we register this, so that adequate funding is coming towards the fire and rescue services across the country.”