FIREFIGHTERS have been called to hundreds of rescue incidents and calls about flooding after storm Ciara and Dennis battered Oxfordshire, but according to current rules they do not legally have to.

Unlike firefighters in the rest of Great Britain, fire and rescue teams in England do not have the statutory duty to help with the hundreds of calls they get after natural disasters.

Without the legal obligation the county’s branch of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the teams cannot guarantee that money and resources will be available when it is needed the most.

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The group have been fighting since 2016 to get this changed and even started an online petition to the then Conservative government asking them to make it a statutory duty to relieve the pressures of the emergency service and provide more funding.

Now a spokesperson for the group has criticised the ‘shambles’ of Boris Johnson’s flooding response after the latest storms and bad weather, and said the new prime minister has failed to plan for the long-term future of flooding.

Steve Wright said: “We need government ministers and Chief Fire Officers to get around the table with the Fire Brigades Union and look at resources that are needed, what investment is required and look at a long term plan to deal with flooding incidents."

He added: "Flooding is nothing new, and will only get worse with climate change, but our ability to tackle its consequences has been utterly undermined by a lack of long-term planning from this government."