Waterproof flood suits, better equipped vehicles and a new drone will ensure Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service is flood ready this winter.
Fire crews were called out to 450 incidents during Storm Desmond last year, with firefighters from across the county descending on Lancaster to help out.
Since then fire crews have been issued with flood suits, and fire engines have been modified so they can drive through deeper water when required. There are now an additional six 4X4 vehicles to call upon, and a new drone will help spot people in need of rescue.
Six firefighters have been trained as drone pilots.
A spokesman said: “This has already been used on fire and other incidents and would prove invaluable at flooding incidents for a (literal) overview and to spot (day or night) by infra-red camera any people in need of rescue.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw contributed £10,000 – using money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act – towards the overall cost of purchasing the device and training staff to use it.
It will be used to provide real-time footage, particularly in hard to reach places, to give officers from both organisations a bird’s eye view of incidents. It is able to fly in high winds and poor weather and can stream high definition or thermal imaging to help with the command of situations as they develop, as well as improving the quality of the evidence gathered to support investigations.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Kenny said: “The unit can be expected to be busy as the range of incidents both organisations attend is very wide but it will be incredibly useful during major incidents. Take the recent floods, for example. It was impossible for our commanders to understand the scale of the event or the threat to life from the water’s edge. With an aerial view from a thermal imaging camera they would be able to quickly identify people who need help and prioritise rescue efforts.”