Widespread flooding leads to busiest day for Essex firefighters

flood defences

Holding back water after the river burst in banks in Great Notley - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Heavy rain has caused widespread flooding across Essex, leading Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to attend over 180 incidents including 70 rescue incidents in 24 hours (Thursday, January 14).

On-call firefighters in Braintree spent nearly three hours preventing flood water entering 12 houses after the River Brain in Great Notley burst its banks.

The team worked with on-call firefighters from Maldon who brought specialist equipment to help pump the water in sections away from the houses. The teams also worked with the Environment Agency.

Water being pumped by hoses

On-call Essex firefighters brought specialist equipment to pump water away in Great Notley - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

flood defences

Holding back water after the river burst in banks in Great Notley - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Station Manager Steve Wintrip from Braintree Fire Station said: “Crews worked really hard in falling temperatures to prevent the water getting into the front doors and were there for several hours at the end of a particularly challenging day attending water related incidents.”

Emergency incidents included road traffic collisions.


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Elsewhere in the county, Barney the spaniel was swept down a river after running off from owners in Halstead.

In desperation, the owner entered the river to attempt to rescue the dog but quickly realised how dangers the water was.

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Barney was retrieved by members of Urban Search and Rescue Service using specialist water rescue equipment.

dog rescued in boat

Barney was rescued by Urban Search and Rescue Service - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


firefighter with rescued spaniel

Crew Manager Lee Bacon with Barney the rescued dog - Credit: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters are warning all dog owners to keep pets on the lead at all times while the weather is bad. They also strongly advise owners not to go into rivers to rescue dogs.

Crew manager Lee Bacon said: "It would really only take a matter of a few seconds to go into shock from the cold water and get swept away."

The Fire Control Room team dealt with triple the calls received on an average day.

The team gave advice to around 90 calls from homeowners and drivers who were experiencing the effects of the flooding, but were not a life risk. 

The fire service said that while they work with partner agencies to help during floods, it can only respond to incidents when there is a risk to life while also responding to a variety of incidents including fires, road traffic collisions and gas leaks. 

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is advising drivers not to risk driving through flood water and instead to turn around and find another route.

For home owners, the service’s advice for residents whose homes are being affected by floodwater is and only if it is safe to do so:

- Ensure your external drains are clear of debris

- Take everything off the ground to prevent damage

- Turn electrics off and if you cannot do this safely, call an electrician

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