Sixteen Norfolk fire stations hit by staff shortages
Sixteen fire stations in Norfolk are suffering from staff shortages, fire chiefs have said, as they revealed recruiting retained firefighters is becoming more difficult.
Retained firefighters are paid, part-time personnel who crew 39 out of 41 fire stations in the county.
There are 492 retained fire fighters and 188 full-time firefighters in Norfolk.
But bosses at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said there is currently a shortfall of 27 retained firefighters, with staff shortages at 16 fire stations.
Fire engines have a minimum crew requirement, so if there is a shortfall, they cannot be sent out to emergencies.
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The fire service aims to have fire engines crewed by retained fire fighters available at least 90pc of the time, but between April and September this year it was 80.1pc.
The issue was discussed by county councillors at yesterday's meeting of the communities committee.
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Karen Palframan, from the fire and rescue service, said: 'I think it's a reality that we are struggling in Norfolk with keeping retained pumps on the run because of availability issues, which do stem, to some extent, around recruitment.
'It is becoming more difficult to recruit.
'Once we do recruit, it then takes a period of time to get them sufficiently skilled to keep them on the run.'
But she said the service was putting measures in place to ensure key stations do have cover.
As reported, the retained crew from Earlham Fire Station has, on occasions, been moved to other stations.
The western and Swaffham districts are also trialling a 'pay as you go' initiative, in which stations where more than five firefighters are available are paid to support other stations.
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