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Fire bosses in plea to plug more than 40 vacancies at Norfolk stations

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 April 2018

Chief fire officer David Ashworth with retained firefighters. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Chief fire officer David Ashworth with retained firefighters. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council

Fire stations across Norfolk are still short of retained firefighters, with more than 40 vacancies affecting the ability of crews to get to blazes.

Retained firefighters in training. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Retained firefighters in training. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

More than 20 extra firefighters reported for duty this week following a recruitment drive to fill on-call vacancies, but Norfolk Fire and Rescue service is still short of its goal of having 514 in post.

The service desperately needs more retained firefighters because, where a station does not have four people to make a crew, fire engines cannot go out.

That means appliances have to be sent from further afield, which slows down response times.

Of Norfolk’s 42 fire stations, 39 are reliant on on-call staff, either wholly or in part, with retained firefighters earning an average of £7,000 a year.

Retained firefighters in training. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Retained firefighters in training. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The fact that people have to live or work within five minutes of their station has caused difficulties in recruiting in some of Norfolk’s rural communities, with modern lifestyles and working pressures making it harder than it used to be.

Latest figures show that, so far in 2017/18, fire engines were available from the nearest station 82pc of the time. The target is 90pc and the figure stood at 88pc four years ago.

The recent recruitment drive yielded 21 new firefighters. They include a plasterer, bar manager, personal trainer, butcher and farmer. The latest course also includes four women recruits, the highest ever on one of the courses.

Norfolk’s chief fire officer David Ashworth said: “Their commitment to us and to their local communities will help us ensure cover across the county so that we can keep Norfolk as safe as possible.”

The new recruits will fill vacancies at Fakenham, Massingham, Kings Lynn, Holt, Attleborough, Great Yarmouth, Hingham, Gorleston, Heacham, Outwell, Acle, Mundesley, Aylsham, Thetford, Outwell, Harleston, Cromer and Wells.

But there remain 41 retained firefighter vacancies, at Attleborough, Cromer, Dereham, East Harling, Great Yarmouth, Heacham, Hethersett, Hingham, Hunstanton, Loddon, Methwold, Mundesley, North Walsham, Reepham, Sandringham, Stalham, Swaffham, Terrington, Thetford, Wells, West Walton and Wroxham.

To apply visit https://tinyurl.com/ybwue25p

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