NORTH Yorkshire’s fire chief had to be rescued after his car broke-down when he drove it into flood-water.
Motorists have been urged by the fire brigade in recent weeks to avoid driving into standing water, but chief fire officer Nigel Hutchinson did so on his way to a meeting and became stuck.
Mr Hutchinson was in a BMW X5 – a 4X4 vehicle leased from North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service – when he came a cropper.
Dave McCabe, the brigade’s head of policy and protection, said Mr Hutchinson was driving between Easingwold and Boroughbridge last Thursday when he came across some standing water.
“The water was quite shallow – I think it was only a few inches deep – and other vehicles which weren’t 4X4s were getting through OK and so he drove through,” he said.
“I think it was a reasonable assessment to make, but unfortunately, his vehicle broke down. I think it was a mechanical defect which may have been exacerbated by floodwater. He got on his fire boots and walked to the side of the road, and I understand he called a colleague, who came to pick him up and take him to the meeting.”
He said a garage recovery firm was called in to take the vehicle away, so there was no need for firefighters to assist. He did not know what repairs were needed to the car.
Mr McCabe said the service’s warnings to motorists primarily related to driving through fast-flowing water, such as fords, where there was considerable risk to drivers, but in this case the water had been still standing.
A Fire & Rescue Service spokesman said in September: “There are high levels of standing water on the roads, therefore motorists should avoid driving through any floodwater and only make journeys if absolutely necessary until the weather conditions improve.”
On November 5, the service said it had attended several incidents recently where motorists and their vehicles had become trapped in flood water, and issued tips including: “Make sure you can see the way out before you enter water, and if it is too deep, or too fast moving, don’t risk it. If you can’t tell how deep the water is, back up and find an alternative route.” Similar warnings were issued three days before Mr Hutchinson became stuck.
Asked if Mr Hutchinson was embarrassed by what had happened, Mr McCabe said: “I don’t know how he feels but if it happened to me, I would feel the irony of it.” When told about the incident by The Press, Steve Howley, of the FBU, said: “It’s quite ironic really but does highlight the potential problems of driving through floodwater and anybody, even the chief fire officer, can encounter problems. I’m sure he finds it slightly embarrassing however there was no real harm done, and it is quite amusing.”