Blown away in Birmingham: a professional and personal view: when Deputy Chief Officer Vijith Randeniya stood in West Midland's operations room on the day of the freak Birmingham tornado, he had little idea that he too would shortly be drawn into the eye of the storm.(Incident Report)

REMEMBER MICHAEL FISH IN 1987 when he dismissed reports of a hurricane? I must confess to being equally sceptical when we received reports that a tornado had hit Birmingham.

At fire service headquarters, which is about three miles from the affected area, the skies were dark and it was pouring with torrential rain. One call we received talked of flash floods and 18 months previously the same area had been subjected to a deluge, which involved major flooding operations.

It takes a little white before a dear picture emerges. We received the first of 350 calls at 1445 and started to get a picture that something significant had happened. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and now, armed with the knowledge that a tornado can hit an inner city suburb, it will be much easier in future to define such an event and to resource it in a structured way. …

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