NORTHERN Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is urging everyone to get prepared for the winter weather in readiness for the difficulties and the wide range of emergencies that it can bring.
Last year over the Christmas period alone (20 December 2010 – 6 January 2011) Fire Crews responded to nearly 2,000 emergency incidents right across Northern Ireland and many of these were as a direct result of the extreme weather conditions.
These included road traffic collisions, flooding incidents and extra fire hazards in the home, such as additional heating systems and fires that had not been lit for some time, which resulted in Firefighters attending 65 accidental fires in homes and 262 chimney fires during this period.
Chris Kerr, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: “I want to reassure the public that their Fire & Rescue Service is well prepared and well rehearsed in terms of our contingency planning in readiness for severe weather conditions. This is to ensure that we can maintain our response to emergencies through heavy snow, ice, freezing temperatures, thaw and flooding etc. We are a ‘can do’ Service and we will where at all possible, render humanitarian assistance to help protect our community and help our partner agencies during what can be a very testing time for everyone.
“What I would ask however is that everyone in Northern Ireland also thinks about their own personal preparedness for the challenges that severe weather may bring. This is essentially helping us to help you.
“During periods of extreme winter weather we receive higher volumes of calls for emergency assistance and inevitably the types of incidents Firefighters are faced with become more challenging and indeed even accessing those in need during emergency situations becomes more difficult. It is important for the public to understand what we can and what we cannot respond to. This allows us to help those in real emergency situations. Eg for burst pipes outside your home call NI Water on 0845 744 0088 and for burst pipes in your home the best advice is to call a plumber or your landlord. You can find all the winter weather preparedness tips and advice on www.nidirect.gov.uk.
To report flooding phone the NI Flooding Helpline on 0300 2000 100 which is open 24/7 and a member of staff will take your details and contact the appropriate agency on your behalf.