Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Monday, December 17, 2012
New recruits are being sought to train up as retained firefighters at 21 stations across Norfolk as the number of retainees dropped slightly below normal levels.
Stations at Attleborough, Fakenham, Downham Market and Wymondham are among those seeking extra firefighters, while Diss station needs an extra two personnel after retainees left through retirement or personal or family related reasons.
However, Karen Palframan, head of service development at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said there was no danger to the level of coverage because fire crews could be called in from nearby stations or from Suffolk to cover in the case of a major incident.
The Norfolk service has the most advanced Automated Vehicle Location System in the country which enables staff in the fire service control room at Hethersett to know the location of fire engines at any time and to be able to direct them quickly and efficiently to incidents.
Karen added there were 530 retained firefighter positions at the 39 retained stations across the county, but the norm was for 95pc of these positions to be filled. Currently, the percentage is 94pc.
But she said retainees coming and going was quite normal for the fire service in Norfolk, which had generally been successful in keeping the number of retainees around the 95pc mark, although there were some stations in rural areas with little employment about where it was difficult to recruit retained firefighters.
She added: “We are very fortunate in that we have a very strong tradition of providing this service to the community and many of our retained firefighters stay with us for many years and but inevitably people are affected by life changing events.
“People may have to move for family or work related reasons and people leave for a range of personal situations.”
Retained firefighters live or work in the community and are able to respond at a moments notice to a fire call.
They have to live or work within five minutes of the fire station and be available during key periods when fire crews could be called upon, such as the working day.
Full training is provided along with skills that can be transferred to the workplace, such as first aid training and fire safety training.