Extra bill sparked by Norfolk’s summer of fires is revealed

Firefighters deal with a blaze on Mousehold Heath. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Firefighters deal with a blaze on Mousehold Heath. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's hot summer- and the blazes which broke out in the tinderbox dry conditions - have left the county's fire and rescue service with estimated extra costs of £200,000.

The prolonged hot and dry spell led to a spate of fires, including in fields, forests and other open spaces, while crews also had to tackle a major blaze at Mile Cross Recycling Centre in Norwich.

The average number of fires in June and July each year is 431, but in those two months this year, Norfolk Fire and Rescue service tackled 794 fires - almost double what they would usually expect to be called to.

The service estimates that the bill for dealing with those fires is about £200,000. The cost of calling on retained firefighters to assist is estimated at £100,000.

And about £20,000 was totted up because of the need to pay overtime to whole time and control room staff amid the pressure to deal with the increase in incidents.

There was an estimated £50,000 bill for fuel, as fire appliances travelled the length and breadth of the county, while the cost of equipment and supplies was £30,000.

Greg Preston, head of service support at the fire service, said: 'It was inevitable that there would be extra costs, as it was almost a doubling in the number of fires we attended.

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'It's fair to say this has been one of the most challenging summers we have had. The service worked extremely hard across the whole county and we had appliances which were moving from one side of the county to the other.

'Crews were out for an awfully long time at some of those fires. And, as well as what our wholetime fireighters and the control staff did, we are really keen to recognise the role of the retained firefighters.

'And we need to thank their employers, who let them be away from their work at that time. That will have cost some of those businesses money, but we are very grateful for their commitment to the community.'

In Suffolk, firefighters tackled nearly three times as many field fires in just two months in the summer than they did for the whole of 2017.

In the two months of June and July, there were 43 field fires, compared to 16 for all of the previous year. Seven were recorded as being arson, with the cause of a further 11 not known.