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by the NFCC

Control measure

Specialist resources: Flood response

Control measure knowledge

In addition to National Resilience resources, including flood response and high volume pump (HVP) capabilities, other organisations, such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), have inland flood rescue teams that may be able to provide a flood response.

For flooding incidents that do not require a National Resilience response, resources may be available through local arrangements or memoranda of understanding (MoUs). Any local arrangements for mutual aid should consider the impact on neighbouring areas of a flood or its potential development.

To ensure there is an effective joint response to the flood, any use of specialist resources should be co-ordinated. All multi-agency incidents, whether with Category 1, Category 2 or voluntary sector organisations, should follow the JESIP principles.


Watercraft, such as boats or sleds, may be available locally or through mutual aid agreements, and provide functions such as:

  • Casualty transfer
  • Evacuation
  • Conducting searches
  • Performing rescues

Any watercraft used should be suitable, considering:

  • Depth of water
  • Strength and speed of flow of water
  • Hazards, including debris that may affect propellers
  • Equipment required for the tasks
  • Duration of deployment
  • Limitations of their use

Watercraft should be operated by personnel or other emergency responders who are trained and equipped for the environment and the tasks required. Safe launching and bail-out sites for watercraft should be identified prior to their deployment into floodwater.

Aerial resources

Aerial resources may be requested to assist in surveillance, search and rescue, casualty transfer and deployment of equipment and personnel. For more information refer to:

Voluntary sector organisations

Voluntary sector organisations may play a very significant role for an emergency response and have specific capability that can enhance flood response.

They may have a broad area of expertise in a specific area, with proven skill levels and a capability that is different to or above Category 1 and Category 2 responders. It is essential to establish their capabilities to ensure operating practices are understood prior to their deployment.

Individuals who meet a recognised standard, such as those defined in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) Flood rescue concept of operations (FRCO), should have an understanding of hazard and risk identification, control measures and safe systems of work at a flood. Those registered as assets should understand that they will be operating within a risk-managed environment and be prepared for the constraints that this might bring.

To support health and safety management of those from voluntary sector organisations, there is a need to communicate the overarching plan and the hazards and risks identified. They should be provided with an understanding about the incident command structure within which they will be expected to operate. If any issues arise, these should be discussed at the earliest opportunity.

Military aid

It may be necessary to request support of the armed forces for a flooding if resources are overwhelmed or to provide a specialist capability. The support of the armed forces to civil authorities in the UK is officially termed Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA). Armed forces can assist with:

  • Building flood defences
  • Evacuating people
  • Providing helicopter support

For further information about MACA refer to the JESIP Joint Doctrine.

Joint training and exercises

If fire and rescue services establish mutual aid, memoranda of understanding (MoUs) or other arrangements for flood response, it may be beneficial to participate in joint training and exercises. This will help to improve interoperability by gaining an understanding of the capabilities of external agencies when dealing with incidents.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Maintain a directory of emergency contact details for specialist resources that can assist with a flood response

  • Consider establishing local arrangements or memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with organisations that may support a flood response

  • Participate in joint training and exercises with other agencies and organisations to improve interoperability at floods

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Request appropriate specialist resources for a flood response

  • Co-ordinate the flood response with other organisations in attendance, applying the JESIP principles

  • Ensure watercraft are operated by personnel or other emergency responders who are trained and equipped for the flood environment and the tasks required

  • Establish safe launching and bail-out sites for watercraft before deploying them in floodwater

  • Establish capabilities of individuals from voluntary sector organisations prior to their deployment during a flood

  • Communicate hazards and risks identified, the overarching plan and the incident command structure to voluntary sector organisations that are responding to a flood