Roaming fire engines ‘will boost cover in rural areas’

EXTRA: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is deploying two additional fire engines to cover rura

EXTRA: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is deploying two additional fire engines to cover rural areas - Credit: Archant

Two extra fire engines are being deployed by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to cover rural areas.

The additional engines will not be based at a fixed fire station but will be sent out to areas depending on need, one in the north and one in the south of the county.

They will be available in daytime hours with the aim of providing extra cover in areas where on-call fire engines are not available to reduce call out times and will also carry out fire prevention activities.

Chief fire officer Chris Strickland said: “Analysis of our data has found that we have a greater demand on our services in daytime hours when we have the least fire engines available.

“We are a largely rural county and therefore only seven of our 27 operational fire stations have a full time crew in the day. Our other fire stations rely on local residents or people who work close-by to provide on-call cover.”

Mr Strickland said: “We have found that our availability of fire engines at these stations has decreased over the last five years despite ongoing recruitment drives and the effort existing on-call firefighters make to keep the fire engine available.

“Recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters is an issue nationally.”

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He said: “We therefore reviewed our wholetime firefighter resources and decided to reallocate firefighter posts that were dedicated to specialist vehicles at Cambridge and Peterborough, as well as the tactical delivery group which already worked to provide additional resilience to on-call stations but in a different way.

“By working with the Fire Brigades Union and staff we agreed to introduce the two roaming pumps to improve attendance times and community safety activity in rural areas which we anticipate will add greater value in preventing fires and getting help to people quicker.”

Councillor Kevin Reynolds, chairman of the fire authority, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve our service and this gets all the more challenging with a reduced budget year on year.

“This new initiative shows that by understanding the risk in our communities, analysing our performance and working with the unions and our staff, we can find ways to use the resources we have more effectively to keep our communities safe.

“We will continue to review our performance to ensure that the additional fire engines are having the impact we anticipate from a point of view of both the time it takes us to get to an incident and an increase in community safety activity in rural areas.”