A firefighter has died while on duty in a flood-hit town.

Clifford Cox died at Staines fire station last night, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said. His next of kin and family have been informed.

Chief fire officer Russell Pearson said Mr Cox was part of the station's Green Watch, and had served as a firefighter in Surrey for nearly 25 years.

In a statement to colleagues at Surrey F ire and Rescue Service, Mr Pearson said: " We are deeply saddened and upset by this tragic news and our thoughts are with his family, friends and close colleagues at this very difficult time...

"Firefighter Cox was based at Staines fire station on Green Watch, having served in Surrey for nearly 25 years. He will be greatly missed by the service and his colleagues.

"This is understandably a very difficult time for all, particularly in light of the on-going major incident and the demands placed on all staff."

Mr Pearson said the fire crews of both Staines and Sunbury who were involved in the incident would receive support.

Staines, in Surrey, has experienced some of the worst flooding during the recent bad weather. Residents in the town have been evacuated after homes were swamped by water from swollen rivers.

Emergency services and the Environment Agency have deployed flood defences to help protect around 150 homes there.

Mr Cox, 53, who was known as "Biff", died at around 6pm after collapsing at the fire station, the Surrey branch of the Fire Brigades Union said.

Colleagues tried to resuscitate him but were unable to save him.

Richard Jones, the brigade branch secretary, said: " Biff was a lovable character with a larger than life personality. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Simon Moore said Mr Cox was not on a call at the time.

He added: "The circumstances of his death have not been established. We are saddened and upset by this tragic news and our thoughts are with his family and colleagues at this very difficult time."