Carmarthen East & Dinefwr AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas has urged the Welsh Government to build on the good performance of the fire and rescue service by expanding its remit to include a statutory duty to respond to challenges like flooding.
Speaking in today’s National Assembly debate on fire and rescue services, the Plaid Cymru AM, who is the party’s Local Government and Fire Spokesperson, paid tribute to the performance of the service, but said that a longer-term strategy is needed in order to cope with budget cuts and the impact of climate change.
The fire and rescue service in Wales has performed better than it has in England and Scotland in recent years when it comes to reducing casualties from fires, with progress including the period when Plaid Cymru was part of the Welsh Government. Mr. Thomas has argued that attentions are now likely to turn to the future pressures on the service and that these need to be confronted early on.
Local fire fighters at Ammanford station have lobbied Rhodri Glyn Thomas and his constituency colleague Jonathan Edwards MP on retaining and expanding services.
Mr. Thomas said:
"Fire and rescue has been the best performing Welsh public service since devolution. Casualties from fires have fallen faster in Wales than in any other UK nation.
"But the budget cuts that are now facing the fire service are unprecedented, and Plaid Cymru doesn’t want to see the good work that has been achieved undone. We want to see a national strategic approach to the issue of budget cuts in order to ensure that there is adequate coverage in all parts of Wales.
"Looking to the future, it is obvious that climate change is a major threat and that rises in global temperatures and sea levels could contribute to more extreme weather patterns. Flooding is a significant challenge and I believe there is an obvious role for the fire and rescue service to specialise in responding to climate change and having more responsibilities for dealing with flooding.
"Local fire fighters at Ammanford station have raised this issue themselves and I was pleased to have the chance to support it at our National Assembly. This is part of the need to build a more resilient nation."