Hannah Blythyn MS has announced £3 million of funding for Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) in Wales from Welsh Government, to support national resilience capabilities and the response to national emergencies.
Split between all three Welsh authorities, the funding will support FRAs in how they respond to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents; serious flooding; incidents involving the collapse of buildings or other structures; and terrorist attacks; paying for specialised vehicles and equipment, along with the crews that operate them.
To help assist with the recent Covid pandemic, Welsh Fire and Rescue Authorities have deployed some of the assets funded to support national resilience to the Welsh NHS. This includes five mass decontamination units, which have been provided to hospitals within Wales to help serve as triage or testing facilities for suspected Covid patients. Equipment and crews were previously utilised as part of the response to Storms Ciara and Dennis in February.
Under this year’s grant, personal protective equipment will be upgraded along with LCD detectors and existing vehicles will be serviced and maintained. The fund will also ensure specially trained personnel are available to operate national resilience vehicles and equipment, to respond to the risks and threats identified at a national and UK level.
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said:
“Whilst we hope they are rarely used or ideally never used , it is vital Wales has the capabilities to respond to exceptionally serious incidents.
I am pleased we can continue to support the Fire and Rescue Authorities to respond to these emergencies and boost the effective and efficient national resilience capabilities we already have here in Wales.
The recent pandemic and flooding has shown us the importance of having these capabilities and equipment in place. This funding will ensure this capability is maintained and can be flexibly and readily deployed to provide a more secure Wales with increased well-being for everyone.”
Richard Prendergast, Assistant Chief Fire Officer of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:
“The three Welsh Fire Services are proud to be able to support resilience in Wales and beyond. We are ensuring that our capabilities evolve to be able to support the public in these times of need and the financial support from the Welsh Government is a critical part of that”.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service provided Ysbyty Gwynedd with their Mass Decontamination Unit (MDU) at the end of March. It has been deployed outside the Emergency Department (ED) doors, to be used in the event of significant numbers presenting at ED. Its purpose and subsequent standard operating procedure was to carry out mass triage in a more suitable environment prior to allowing access into ED/hospital, working to the principle of reducing risk of cross infection and managing safe flow. The MDU currently remains in place and it has been agreed to keep it in place for a further two weeks.
The capabilities funded by Welsh Government also form part of the wider UK National Resilience and support cross-border emergency response arrangements.