Crew shortages left eight fire stations across Suffolk out of action yesterday
09:23 21 January 2016
Eight rural fire stations across Suffolk were out of action for most of yesterday because they were unable to muster a crew, statistics seen by our reporters have shown.
According to the data, there were not enough firefighters available at Holbrook, Framlingham, Saxmundham, Bungay, Eye, Needham Market, Wickhambrook, and Mildenhall for at least four hours during the middle of the day.
Other stations would have been able to operate only at reduced capacity – and Nayland fire station was not able to offer cover during the evening, although it did have a crew available for most of the day.
The figures are a continuation of a pattern that has become common over recent years.
The EADT has been sent information sheets showing which fire stations – of which there are a total of 35 in Suffolk – have enough retained firefighters available to be able to muster a crew for the last six days.
This followed our reports earlier in the month showing how often retained crews were “off the run” at a time when serious cuts to the fire service are being considered – which could put an additional burden on part-time firefighters.
The figures show that the station which had the most difficulty in mustering enough for a weekday crew over the last seven days was Needham Market. Nayland had difficulties on many days, although yesterday it did have enough firefighters available to put a crew together.
Fire stations normally need a minimum of four firefighters to be available to muster a crew – including a driver and a station officer.
The maximum number that can travel on a fire appliance is six – and most fire stations have 11 or 12 firefighters on their books.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is currently trying to recruit more part-time firefighters and a spokesman said several are expected to be able to join crews over the spring – and senior fire officers are preparing to unveil changes to the way its retained fire stations operate in a bid to improve cover.