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UK floods: Firefighters 'lack equipment and training' to deal with crisis due to government cutbacksFirefighters on the frontline of tackling the floods are being hampered by serious shortages of equipment, staff and training caused by the Tory-led Coalition’s cuts, it was claimed today. The massive rescue effort - the fire service’s biggest mobili

sation since the Second World War - is being blighted by the shortcomings, according the the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Firefighters have told of the problems they face as they carry out huge numbers of rescues, wide-scale evacuations and pumping out flooded buildings. The union said it was becoming clear that “serious budget restrictions” caused by cuts in central funding across the fire service were creating problems such as equipment shortages and inadequate training. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters are doing a fantastic job in the floods, saving lives and reducing damage done to homes an

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s, and are always proud to serve their communities during difficult times. “But a very troubling picture is emerging of understaffed operations, badly-equipped firefighters and inadequate training severely hampering their work and creating greater risk for firefighters and the public. “Although there has been improvement in equipment after firefighters raised

concerns d

uring the 2007 floods, it seems our calls for better preparation and support have not yet been adequately addressed, with unprecedented cuts severely jeopardising our ability to cope with

the floods effectively. “Firefighters are keen and proud to do this work but they have the right to expect the best levels of training, equipment and resources. “That was promised after 2007 but has not been delivered and the situation is getting significantly worse due to the huge cuts the government has made to fire service budgets.”

The most dramatic weather pictures of the weekView gallery Examples of equipment shortages reported by firefighters so far include:-  Large numbers of firefighters att

ending floods in protective equipment designed for dealing with fires, rather than water. A shortage of specialist fire service vehicles capable of driving through high levels of water. A lack of sufficient dry suits, meaning replacement crews had no immediate access to this equipment, restricting their ability to respond Poor quality dry suits and other equipment. A lack of replacements for equipment damaged during use. Widespread problems relating to health and welfare, with firefighters being affected by suspected waterborne infections and sickness The deployment of ageing or deteriorating boats. Problems with training were also reported, with firefighters saying that specialist water training, such as using boats, had been significantly reduced because of budget restrictions. Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will start in8CancelPlay now