Suffolk: Nearly 30 fire engines off the run at one time due to crew shortage

Fire crews off the run

Fire crews off the run

Nearly three-quarters of Suffolk’s fire stations were unable to respond to a house fire in one 24-hour period, union officials have claimed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has released a snapshot from Wednesday last week revealing that a total of 29 Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service appliances were unavailable.

But last night Mark Sanderson, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief fire officer, disputed the data and disagreed with the FBU’s analysis.

Roy Humphreys, secretary of the FBU in Suffolk, said at pinch points there were up to 21 pumps unavailable for house fires at any one time, but over the 24-hour period, there were as many as 29 out of action – a total of 74% of part-time appliances.

“I tallied up the actual appliances that were off the run and unavailable across the whole of the day and it was 114 hours,” he added.

“One of the service’s officers said our fire stations were dispositioned to cover each other but if we haven’t got crews available to attend the fire station it has a very detrimental effect across how we perform as a service.

“It’s a dire situation that’s been ongoing for some time now and it’s getting greatly worse.

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“The only real place we can guarantee mobilisation is at whole time fire stations.”

Mr Sanderson said the service has reviewed the information presented by the FBU but disagrees with their interpretation of it.

“In the period in question, all fire engines were available for 86% of the time, with on-call engines available 84%.

“On August 22, we attended 15 emergencies. This included one house fire, which was attended within seven minutes by an on-call fire crew. This and the remaining incidents were attended within our agreed response standards.

“Fire cover in Suffolk is provided from 35 fire stations across Suffolk.

“We closely monitor crewing availability and where we see evidence that a fire station is short, we mobilise a fire engine from the next nearest station.

“We are not complacent and work tirelessly to improve our response arrangements, which we monitor around the clock.

“We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this information with the FBU.”