WIGAN’S fire service has charged residents almost £20,000 to pump flood water out over the last four years.
Figures shows that from 2010 to date, Greater Manchester and Fire Rescue (GMFRS) has billed for nine flooding incidents, totalling £19,506.
GMFRS makes their charges per appliance, rather than resident. The cost per appliance including crew was £300 per hour in 2010/11, which shot up to £400 in 2012/13, and rose to £420 per hour in 2014/15.
In one day alone – July 23 2012 – crews from Wigan charged £11,602.00 for flooding and they were forced to return a day later on two occasions, at a cost of £2,534 and £2,400. The pumping equipment was also required on July 16, costing £800 for two hours,
The worst hit areas that summer were Beresford Street, in Newtown, and Asda roundabout, in Robin Park.
Crews in Leigh submitted a fee four times on June 18 2010, totalling £1,860.
The pumping equipment was also used in October 20 2010, billed for one hour – £310.
A spokesman for GMFRS said that under the Fire and Rescue Service Act 2004, it cannot charge for emergencies, such as rescues where a person is at risk. But it can request a fee for other call-outs in order to cover costs, including wages, equipment and time.
GMFRS’ director of emergency response, assistant county fire officer Paul Argyle, said: “In order to provide public value, GMFRS charges for some non-emergency incidents and events where it is in the public interest to do so. This includes clean-up operations, the provision of or pumping out of water and the removal of unsafe structures in the non-emergency phase of an incident. Any charge made will be no more than the costs incurred in responding to the applicant’s request.
“We currently have no plans to charge for hoax calls or false alarms and this is for a number of reasons, but we do take enforcement action in relation to these matters when appropriate.
“The decision to make a charge is made by the individual officer in charge who makes a decision based on a number of factors, including the ability of the person involved to pay and to what extent the need for the service could have been prevented.