Photo Caption - Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr pictured with Red Cross Operations Director Sharon Sinclair at the signing of the MOU between Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and the Red Cross.
Fire Service and Red Cross Respond to Flooding
The severe flooding which affected a number of areas across Northern Ireland last night resulted in callouts for both the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and volunteers from the British Red Cross. The two organisations had only just signed a document formalising their long-standing working relationship, which enables the Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) to provide temporary shelter, emotional support, clothing and toilet facilities for people in the immediate aftermath of a fire or flood.
Red Cross FESS volunteer, Ivan Charleton, last night drove one of the charity’s specially adapted mobile homes from its base at Omagh fire station to Ballymagroarty in Derry to assist a mother and 4 year old child whose home was severely flooded. He said;
“The roads were like rivers the whole way to Derry. The weather was unbelievable. When we got there it was after midnight. The water was up to the windows of the house and the woman and her little boy were in their nightclothes with nowhere else to go. The child was crying hysterically; obviously very frightened, and the family dog had to be rescued after nearly drowning in the house. The woman told me that she’d only finished decorating. Everything in the house, furniture, Christmas tree and decorations were all destroyed. We provided the family with clothing, wash bags and advice and stayed with them until they were put up in a local hotel.
The Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service has operated in Northern Ireland for twelve years and provides temporary shelter, emotional support, clothing and toilet facilities for people in the immediate aftermath of a fire or flood. Like fire and rescue personnel, Red Cross volunteers are on standby 365 days a year.
Service manager Bobby Pollock remembers several Christmas day callouts over the years;
“An emergency can strike at any time but as often as not people find themselves having to leave their home on a public holiday or at the weekend when it can be difficult to get hold of the various support agencies. Our volunteers have helped people dealing with everything from burst pipes to a fire in a hot press, even a caravan which went on fire while the occupants were cooking their Christmas dinner..”
Red Cross Operations Director Sharon Sinclair said;
“There are many synergies between the work of our two organisations and our new Memorandum of Understanding highlights the importance of an integrated approach to emergency management. Red Cross is keen to work more closely with our statutory partners in order to provide the best possible training opportunities to our volunteers, so that we can provide an even higher standard of care to vulnerable people.”
Chris Kerr, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said;
“The Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service is an extremely valuable resource for us as an organisation. The Fire Emergency Support Vehicles are based at our Fire Stations in Cadogan, Omagh and Portrush and no matter what the time of day or night, the volunteers are ready to help people in crisis and provide additional facilities for our Firefighters during long protracted incidents such as house fires, flooding, road traffic collisions and gorse fires.
“We are very appreciative of this service and I welcome this formal agreement which strengthens the links between our two organisations and will help both organisations to continue working in partnership to ensure the safety and well being of the community.”
Notes to editors
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives
For further information please contact:
During Office Hours -
Corporate Communications Department, Tel 02892 664221
Out Of Office Hours Media Enquiries -
Duty Headquarters Officer, Tel 02892 664221.