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‘We’ll keep doing what it takes’ say fire bosses as Norfolk wildfire surge continues

North Lynn retained firefighters Becky Hornigold and Mel Tibbs dampening down the fire at Leziate Park. Picture: Ian Burt

North Lynn retained firefighters Becky Hornigold and Mel Tibbs dampening down the fire at Leziate Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Firefighters will “keep doing what it takes” to tackle the surge in wildfires during the spell of hot weather, but the testing conditions are taking its toll, fire bosses have said.

Garry Collins, head of prevention and protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue ServiceGarry Collins, head of prevention and protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Norfolk Fire and Rescue usually has to deal with one fire in the open a day at this time of year, but, since June 1, they have had to attend up to six a day.

And Garry Collins, head of fire prevention and protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Dealing with these are not two minute jobs, they can take a long time. It can be difficult to get to them and it can be hard to get the water which is needed to the scene to put out the fire.

“It can be arduous work in this heat and you’ve got retained firefighters who are spending hours dealing with these fires and are then having to go to work the next day.

“The support we’ve had from employers, families and loved ones has been excellent and everyone has been pulling together.

“These are exceptional circumstances but we will just keep doing what it takes.

“We are hoping we won’t have to call in mutual aid from the military, as they had to in Lancashire.”

Mr Collins said hot-spot locations for fires included Sprowston, where there have been 47 wildfires since the start of June, King’s Lynn with 43 and Thetford with 16. There have been 20 fires on Mousehold Heath.

And he said efforts were being made to ease the pressure on certain stations.

He said: “With Sprowston, for example, it won’t always have been the Sprowston crew going out to those fires.

“The control room tries to manage it so that other stations will take on some of the load.

“Every fire appliance has contributed to the solution to this and it’s worth remembering this is on top of our usual work, such as when we have road traffic collisions. That hasn’t stopped.”

Mr Collins said the school holidays, which start next week, often saw an increase in deliberately started fires, but he hoped people would show sense.

He said: “It is a significant risk, but we are hoping common sense, advice and parental control means people will be discouraged to do that.”

Mr Collins repeated his plea for people not to start bonfires or camp fires and to be extra careful when discarding cigarettes.

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