After a pretty lousy scrutiny meeting on the floods last year by Westminster Council, where very little questions were asked of the London Fire Service, l decided to ask my own questions to them direct by writing to our local fire station for details of their flood calls on the 12th & 25th of July. As the reality is we are dependent on them when flooded with their pumping equipment to drain clean the floods immediately in our homes
1.How many flooding incidents did you have to attend on the 12th of July in the City of Westminster (ideally broken down by post codes)? “Our data team have been able to provide some information related to the location of areas affected by flooding the flood incident type and the call data from the flooding incidents. Please note the London Fire Brigade does not capture flooding data in the same way as we do for fire related incidents”. Please see attached graph above.
The data attached shows the following:
12th – 13th July 2021
1,707 total calls to LFB where the word “flood” was used by Control within the free text description field. Of those calls, 869 individual incidents/attendances were recorded. Call records only, will not have an IMS (Incident Management System) incident type. The attached Excel sheet has three segments, one detailing all postcodes which had a flooding related 999 call, one sheet breaking down all IMS incident types and the third sheet is a list of all 999 calls by the time the call was made.
25th July 2021
1,312 total calls to LFB where the word “flood” was used by Control within the free text description field. Of those calls, 662 individual incidents were recorded. Call records only will not have an IMS incident type. The attached Excel sheet has three segments, one detailing all postcodes which had a flooding related 999 call, one sheet breaking down all IMS incident types and the third sheet is a list of all 999 calls by the time the call was made.”
- Was there any difference this time from previous floodings particularly in Maida Vale in places like Shirland Rd? This particular area of London experienced Flash floods over a very short time period. No prior warning was given by any partner agency. Due to very high number of calls received, LFB declared a major incident.
- The water receded quickly after 6 pm, for example the water was up to the window sills along Bristol Gardens and then dissipated in 10 minutes. What intervention was made by either the Fire Brigade or Thames Water? We believe that no actions undertaken by LFB would have had an impact to reduce the levels so quickly. The likelihood is that Thames Water could have potentially diverted sewer systems, hence the rapid dispersal in the time frame.
- Residents would like to know why the water subsidence was so incredibly fast. like a bath with a plug hole despite it raining heavily still. So it would be good to know timings in relation to what action was taken for the “plughole” event. At the time of the Westminster Council Scrutiny Committee on the 30th September 2021 the question was raised to LFB referencing the plug hole scenario. It was discussed that there was video footage which would be sent across to LFB which could help ascertain what might have been the cause of this. However, this was never sent through so it is difficult to get a clear idea of what was occurring at the time. It is possible that an attending organisation could have lifted a works cover which would have assisted in the dispersal of surface water
- Did the Fire Brigade lift only manholes? What was found in the way of obstructions in gulleys, manholes or drains? It is not standard practice for firefighters to lift work covers. Given the number of firefighters that attended on the day, we cannot confirm whether individual cases of this took place or not. As referred to in section 3, we understand that members of the public may have witnessed this and would welcome any more specific information to help look into this in greater detail.
6. At the Shirland Road Flip Kiosk just off the corner of Formosa St, was the amber light on at all? LFB do not have any factual data or information relating to this point.
7. And was it a member of the Fire Brigade that made the decision to “unblock” something or not? Or open a valve? Please see the response to question 4.
8. More generally, we are looking for recommendations for the future. Do we need new systems to notify London’s residents of general weather warnings, much earlier, particularly if specific local areas are in danger? And finally, do you have any suggestions for better ways to protect ourselves? What can we do in Westminster to prepare for the next event, and attempt to prevent it?
There is a range of information available on LFB’s website to provide support and advice to residents in relation to flooding. This can be accessed at the link below
This steers the public to flood warnings and advice on what to do in the event of flooding along with steps to help with preparation. There is also advice available on the Greater London Authority website:
The UK Government will shortly be launching an emergency messaging system, which is due to be available later this year: https://www.gov.uk/alerts.