A SUSSEX firefighter was called up to Derbyshire to lead the rescue effort after fears of a damaged dam bursting.

Marvin Smith, who works in West Sussex Fire and Rescue’s station in Worthing, travelled to Whaley Bridge Dam, between Macclesfield and Stockport, on Saturday to help responders there.

More than 1,500 residents of Whaley Bridge town were evacuated after heavy rainfall stoked fears the damaged dam could burst.

Mr Smith, from Chichester, said the situation looked “pretty bleak” when he was called up to Derbyshire on Saturday night.

The 50-year-old said: “I left West Sussex at 9.15pm on Saturday evening when I was called in, and I drove up through the night to get there.

“At the time the weather was looking pretty bleak.

The Argus:

“They had already taken the decision to evacuate more homes from further down the river from Whaley Bridge, as the risk of flooding was really quite severe.

“If the dam was to go, they needed to have resources in place for flood rescue, and that’s where we come in to provide that support.”

Mr Smith is one of 30 flood rescue tactical advisors in the country and was called up after bad forecasts for Sunday evening raised fears of a flood.

Emergency services worked around the clock to pump water out of the reservoir behind the dam to prevent its collapse.

Mr Smith oversaw powerboat teams from Humberside, West Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire.

He said: “We have been based near Stockport, where the runoff from the dam is, and since arriving we have been working together to ensure plans are in place to support residents if they were to be displaced by flooding.

“So that’s everything from emergency food supplies to accommodation arrangements for the team, but also problem solving.

“So if a road was to get cut off by flood water, how would we get from A to B?”

But despite the hectic journey up to Derbyshire, Mr Smith seemed optimistic about the situation and could be stood down soon.

He said: “The really good news is that they have made a real impact on reducing the water level in the reservoir, which has been crucial.

“And the rain that was forecast last night didn’t materialise, so we didn’t have that increase in water that was expected.

“There is a degree of frustration from some people who people want to get back into their homes and see this as a bit unnecessary.

“But equally there are those who do understand that we have to be prepared for all eventualities.”