Storm Eunice: Fire service declares major incident due to ‘chaos’ and 100mph winds

Firefighters received 550 calls in just two and a half hours earlier today (Friday, February 18), more than they receive in an average 24 hour period.

London’s fire service has declared a major incident due to Storm Eunice causing “chaos” across the capital - with 100mph winds recorded in some areas.

Firefighters received 550 calls in just two and a half hours earlier today (Friday, February 18), more than they receive in an average 24 hour period.

Emergency services have responded to urgent incidents including a van which overturned on the M11 and a balcony which collapsed in central London.

Scaffolding in a precarious position in Islington and a large container atop a high-rise building in a precarious position on the Isle of Dogs were both also reported to the fire service.

And firefighters were also at the O2 in Greenwich, due to the canvas roof coming loose in the high winds - which has since been evacuated.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Welch said: "Firefighters are ready and prepared to deal with incidents involving weather, whether that be flooding or high winds.

“We ensure staff, vehicles and equipment are available to allow us to protect Londoners.

“However, we are here to respond to genuine emergencies so we would ask people to only call 999 in that situation or if there is an immediate risk to life.

“Our control officers and firefighters have been incredibly busy today and we want to ensure our resources are ready to respond to people who really need our help.”

The fire service has now declared a major incident “in response to the volume of 999 calls being taken about Storm Eunice related incidents”.

A spokesperson said: “London’s firefighters and control officers are having an exceptionally busy day as the storm causes chaos across London, the southeast and the southwest of the county with winds of up to 100mph recorded in some areas.

“Firefighters are still meeting the needs of our communities, but declaring a major incident allows us to focus our resources.”

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) introduced “batch mobilisation” which means calls where there is a risk to life are prioritised and other calls are attended as non-emergencies.

Firefighters won’t then be tied up dealing with a spate of non-emergency calls in one area.

The control room took 550 calls between 10.30am and 1pm.

Weather warnings today as Storm Eunice hits UK (Graphic: Kim Mogg)

People are advised to only call 999 if there is an emergency or if an immediate risk to life.

“Unhelpful calls” have included alerting the fire service to a tent which had blown into a neighbour’s garden and to a trampoline which was blowing around in the garden next door.

Emergency services now say they will not attend incidents where there is no risk to life.

Callers are advised to contact the local council if a tree has come down in the road or speak to their insurance company if a tree has fallen on their property or vehicle.

Londoners are asked to secure loose items at their homes and stay indoors where possible.

A car crushed under a fallen tree. Photo: @ComptonReeback1

The fire brigade has urged Londoners to:

  • Stay inside if possible and only travel if you need to. Check your journey before you set out – with TfL or National Rail – and be aware of side winds or falling debris.
  • If you are outside, don’t shelter under trees.
  • Please only call 999 in an emergency or if there is a risk to life. 
  • Ensure loose items around your home and on balconies are secured or stored away.
  • If you have a power cut, take extra care with candles. Place them in fire resistant holders on a flat, stable surface where they won’t be knocked over. 
  • Make sure you put candles out when you leave the room and especially before bed.
  • Check in on your neighbours by phone, particularly those who are vulnerable.

The Met Office red weather warning has now been downgraded to an amber warning.