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Devon and Somerset FRS respond to BBC report on fire appliance availability


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Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has responded to a recent BBC report, addressing concerns about the availability of on-call fire appliances.

The report hinted at potential risks to lives due to the unavailability of local fire crews.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service assures communities

“We would like to reassure our communities that this is not the case and explain the measures we have in place to make sure we attend all emergency incidents as quickly as possible,” stated the Service.

Even with a fire station in proximity, the fire engine that responds might not always originate from that station.

If the station relies on on-call firefighters, there can be moments during the day when there are insufficient crew members to form a response team.

Reasons can vary, from the station undergoing recruitment to firefighters being preoccupied with other incidents.

However, during such times, “crews from neighbouring stations or from elsewhere in Devon and Somerset will respond to the incident,” they further clarified.

Optimising fire appliance availability during crucial hours

The Service highlighted that the availability of their 112 fire engines approaches 100% at night, the period posing the highest fire risks.

Daytime availability can vary due to factors like on-call firefighters working jobs situated more than five minutes from the station.

“We have times when we activate what we call ‘business continuity’,” the Service mentioned, indicating the implementation of specific measures to uphold their emergency response standards.

This mode, triggered when available appliances drop below 66, occurred twice in August 2023, with one instance lasting merely a few minutes.

During business continuity, each incident is manually assessed to determine the suitable resources required.

Concluding their response, the Service reiterated its commitment: “We will always attend an emergency incident.”

To improve appliance availability and response times, they are recruiting more on-call firefighters.

Interested candidates can find details on their careers page.

IFSJ Comment

Devon and Somerset’s proactive approach towards addressing concerns about fire appliance availability demonstrates the intricate balance between available resources and community safety.

By openly discussing the challenges faced, while ensuring the community of their unwavering commitment, the Fire and Rescue Service underscores the importance of transparency and ongoing recruitment in emergency services.

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