Firefighter Claims Tuesday's Brutal Blazes Were A 'Peek At Our Future'

UK's hottest day on record was a "game changer".
July 19 – smoke columns rise from Dartford, Kent, where a fire erupted earlier in the day
July 19 – smoke columns rise from Dartford, Kent, where a fire erupted earlier in the day
WILLIAM EDWARDS via Getty Images

A firefighter has warned that Tuesday’s terrifying blazes are just a “peek” at our future in the UK as the climate crisis continues.

Britain’s records were shattered as temperatures soared to 40C, with major incidents declared across the country and more than 100 fire engines sent to blazes across London alone.

London mayor Sadiq Khan even claimed Tuesday was the busiest day for the capital’s fire services since World War 2.

Further crises struck in Leicestershire, South Yorkshire and Suffolk.

As Dave Walton, the deputy chief fire officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, explained on Twitter, Tuesday was a “game changer”.

After dealing with the fires all day, Walton said he and his partner, a 999 Fire Control supervisor, both came home and asked: “What the hell just happened?”

He continued: “Be under no illusion the type of incident splashed all over national news from London happened the length and breadth of England today, it just hasn’t got the media coverage yet.

’Today was a game changer. 999 calls were stacked and bouncing around the various Fire Controls around the country.

“Fire crews were going from one incident to the next, to the next...it has been brutal.

“I’ve never known so many major incidents declared at a whole FRS [Fire and Rescue Service] level at once.”

Firefighters attend a fire on Dartford Marshes in Kent on Tuesday
Firefighters attend a fire on Dartford Marshes in Kent on Tuesday
Adrian Stirrup via PA Wire/PA Images

He said he lost count at one point, but recognised that this fire surge was a “peek into the future”.

Walton also claimed demand for fire engines and firefighters “far, far outstrip” the numbers that are available at any one time.

The firefighter said you “can’t stop” such blazes, and – after years of watching such chaos in other countries – it has now come here.

He said those working in the industry are “heroes” but can’t work “miracles”.

“Today was about climate change,” he added, calling on any climate change sceptics to speak to those who fought the blazes this week.

He then wrapped up his thread with a sombre message, concluding: “There are huge lessons to learn and big decisions to make.”

Focusing just on the capital, Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that there were more than 2600 calls to the fire services in London on Tuesday. For comparison, a regular day normally sees around 350 calls.

He also claimed there were more than a dozen simultaneous fires across the capital which required up to 30 engines each, hinting at the magnitude of each blaze. Normally, the fires require anywhere between four to eight engines.

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