More deaths and injuries were caused by flooding and other water emergencies in Berkshire last year, figures show.

The Fire Brigades Union said the effects of climate change mean it is "no surprise" that flood deaths hit a record high across England, as it called on the Government to boost firefighters' resources for such incidents.

Home Office data shows that in Berkshire, eight deaths or injuries occurred in incidents where firefighters were called to flooding or other water emergencies in 2019-20 – up from four in 2018-19.

Figures reveal that last year's incidents involved four deaths, three hospitalisations and one where a precautionary check was carried out.

Reading Chronicle:

Alongside the four flooding and water deaths, the Home Office figures show there were a further 23 fatalities in non-fire incidents recorded by the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2019-20.

Of those, six were recorded in incidents where the fire service was assisting another agency, and eight while helping another emergency service gaining access to a property.

A further death was by suicide, while one occurred in a medical incident, and four in car accidents.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Last winter saw firefighters respond to two major bouts of devastating flooding and it’s sadly no surprise that flood deaths, injuries, and hospitalisations all reached record highs.

“The Government needs to recognise that these incidents are only becoming more frequent and more damaging with climate change – just as, at the other end of the scale, hotter, drier summers fuel ever larger wildfires in the UK.

“Moreover, we need a total reshaping of our economy to drive down carbon emissions and prevent further flooding disasters – but that must go hand in hand with funding and resources for the firefighters on the frontline of the climate emergency.”

A Government spokeswoman said the vast majority of fatalities and casualties come from water and rescue incidents, such as lakes and rivers, not flooding.

She added: “Our condolences go to anyone who has lost a loved one in these tragic circumstances.

“Fire and rescue services are always ready to respond when people get into difficulty in water, and people should stay away from swollen rivers, take care by the coast, and always follow the advice of the emergency services during flooding.”