The county’s chief fire officer has praised the service after what he describes as “unprecedented conditions” last summer due to the hot weather and a record number of calls.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was named as one of the best two performing fire and rescue services of 14 services inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) in 2018.

Chief fire officer, Chris Strickland, said it had been a "memorable and challenging year" during which staff had responded well.

"This has been a challenging year for our staff across the service," he said.

"We faced unprecedented spate of conditions in the summer due to the weather and staff stood up to the task and performed exceptionally well. This hard work was evident throughout the year as we saw more emergency calls and attended more incidents than in 2017."

Crews from stations up and down the county attended more than 7,000 incidents, including fires, rescues and road traffic collisions, as well as supporting other services in neighbouring counties.

The combined fire control, which also serves residents and mobilises fire engines to incidents in Suffolk, took more than 18,000 calls, of which 11,000 were received from Cambridgeshire residents. The summer period saw significant numbers of calls due to the hot and dry weather conditions, which caused a large amount of fires in the open across both counties.

Of the incidents attended by Cambridgeshire crews, more than 2,100 were fires, either in homes, buildings or outdoors. Crews also responded to 491 road traffic collisions, 126 animal rescues and 55 rescues in water.

Staff completed more than 10,000 hours of community safety activity across Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough). This ranged from visiting vulnerable people in their homes to carry out safe and well visits, to engaging with businesses and community groups.

The service also welcomed more than 50 new firefighters during 2018, who joined wholetime and on-call stations across the county. Combined Fire Control also welcomed 14 new members of staff.

"We have managed to increase our community safety activity in rural areas, as well as having extra fire engines available to respond to incidents," said Mr Strickland.

Adding: "This activity remains crucially important as we aim to reach those vulnerable residents and ensure they are safe from fire in their homes, as well as continuing to engage with the business community. We've also embraced new technology with portable misting systems which have been installed in the homes of those most at risk from fire and we've seen these successfully activate and save lives already. I want to thank staff across the service for their continued hard work in serving the people of Cambridgeshire.

The Cambridgeshire service attended 2,157 fires in 2018, plus 491 road traffic collisions and 55 water rescues. It received 10,939 calls and there were a total of 7,479 incidents.