Norfolk fire stations can struggle to make pumps available, snapshot shows

A snapshot of fire stations across Norfolk has revealed how some struggle to make pumps available at certain times.

Fire chiefs say part of the reason is some bosses are reluctant, in tough economic times, to release workers to crew engines as retained firefighters.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service relies on retained firefighters to crew 45 out of 53 engines.

While figures show availability has improved, with 26 stations out of 39 which retained crews operate from hitting the service target of being available to respond to emergencies within five minutes 90pc of the time, some struggle.

Stations which had an average availability of 80pc or lower between April and December last year included crews at Wells, Earlham, Massingham, Diss, Fakenham, Terrington St Clement, West Walton, Heacham and Sandringham.

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Karen Palframan, head of service delivery at Norfolk Fire and Rescue, said: 'Problems around availability can be linked to a range of things.

'You can be fine and then somebody leaves and there is a time lag between their successor being trained up to be competent.'

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She said recruitment in rural areas, where work can be seasonal, could be tricky, but said the economic climate also created problems, with retained firefighters needing to work or live within five minutes of their station.

She said: 'We have a number of retained firefighters who are self-employed and the economic climate means they may have to take work further away from the station.

'And for smaller employers, if they are facing tough economic times, then they might be more reluctant to let people leave off work to attend calls.'

She added seven retained support officers have been used to plug gaps.

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