Two extra fire engines for rural Cambridgeshire

Fire Authority chairman Councillor Kevin Reynolds and assistant chief fire officer Rick Hylton with

Fire Authority chairman Councillor Kevin Reynolds and assistant chief fire officer Rick Hylton with the new fire engines. Picture: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue - Credit: Archant

Two extra fire engines are now available in daytime hours in rural Cambridgeshire, starting from today.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue has reallocated resources to provide the extra cover in areas where on-call fire engines are not available.

The roaming pumps will not work from a fixed station, but will go to areas in the north or south of the county on a daily basis depending on need.

When not attending incidents, the crews will do community safety work including visits to older and vulnerable members of the community, as well as visiting businesses to ensure they comply with fire safety laws.

Chief fire officer Chris Strickland said: “We are a largely rural county and therefore only seven of our 27 operational fire stations have a full-time crew in the day. Our other stations rely on local residents or people who work close by to provide on-call cover. They have to drop everything and get to the fire station if there is a 999 call in their area.

“We have found that our availability of fire engines at these stations has decreased over the last five years despite ongoing recruitment drives and the effort existing on-call firefighters make to keep the fire engine available.”

Chris said recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters had become an issue nationally, as people now tend to work further away from home.

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He said: “We have decided to reallocate firefighter posts that were dedicated to specialist vehicles at Cambridge and Peterborough, as well as the tactical delivery group which already worked to provide additional resilience to on-call stations but in a different way.

“By working with the Fire Brigades Union and staff, we agreed to introduce the two roaming pumps to improve attendance times and community safety activity in rural areas – which we anticipate will add greater value in preventing fires and getting help to people quicker.”

Cambs and Peterborough Fire Authority chairman Kevin Reynolds added: “We are always looking at ways to improve our service and this gets all the more challenging with a reduced budget year on year. This new initiative shows that by understanding the risk in our communities, analysing our performance and working with the unions and our staff, we can find ways to use the resources we have more effectively to keep our communities safe.”