‘Norfolk people don’t like change’ - No plans to cut fire crews, say council leaders

Margaret Dewsbury said the council would not be rushing into making changes for the fire service in

Margaret Dewsbury said the council would not be rushing into making changes for the fire service in Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Norfolk has no current plans to reduce the number of firefighters crewing appliances in the county, leaders have insisted.

Earlier this year, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service brought in a new policy which means on-call fire crews would be staffed by just three firefighters for any type of incident.

At a meeting of Norfolk County Council, which runs the fire service, Labour councillor Mike Sands said: "There are moves to reduce fire crews from five to three.

"Given the rural nature, does the cabinet member agree that puts people at risk when attending fires?"

But Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said the council was not rushing into any change.

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She said: "We have an open mind. We have not made any decision at all."

She said she had spoken to members of the fire service about it.

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She said: "Some are cautious and some think it might work, depending on the circumstances, and I won't be rushing into anything."

There was controversy recently over the fire service's move to replace appliances with 4x4 vehicles at three further stations across Norfolk.

Diss, Fakenham and Wymondham fire stations will all be losing one of their larger, traditional fire engines and receiving a 4x4 unit as a replacement, while Cromer and Sandringham have already lost their engines.

Mrs Dewsbury was asked if the plan was to replace more engines with 4X4s.

She said the smaller vehicles were more agile and could be beneficial in tackling field fires.

She said: "I know Norfolk people do not like change and members of staff are concerned about using smaller vehicles.

"We are going to introduce the further three and not going to take the larger vehicles away, so they can use either/or to see which suits the type of emergency and we will see from there.

"I am not rushing into anything."

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