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More retained firefighters need in Ilfracombe

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

  • STATION: Ilfracombe Fire Station. Picture: Mike Southon Ref: BNMS20130219H-007_C

  • Area Commander Steve Widnell. Picture: Mike Southon Ref: BNMS20131025D-005_C

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MORE retained firefighters are being called for in Ilfracombe as the town's station moves towards becoming fully retained.

Steve Widnell, area commander for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters who currently work full time from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday would not be released until more retained firefighters had been found.

He made the comment at a meeting of North Devon Council's overview and scrutiny committee last week.

It follows a decision by the fire service to make Ilfracombe Fire Station fully retained as part of its efforts to save £8 million over two years.

"The challenge we have in Ilfracombe is that the retained cover profile has been focused around evenings and weekends," said Mr Widnell.

"We are working to see what cover we can get during the day and until I get that I won't release all the whole time firefighters."

Mr Widnell reassured members that prevention and protection work had been carried out and that response times in Ilfracombe would only rise by four to five minutes.

But councillors still remained concerned.

"I don't buy it really," said chairman of the committee Frank Biederman.

"There are cuts in local authorities and I get that but where people's lives are concerned, what price do you put on that?

"I don't see how you can take a 35% reduction and move from stations being whole crewed to retained and still run as safe a service as you did before."

Mr Biederman mentioned that there were further cuts proposed, meaning lives would be put at more risk.

Mr Widnell responded: "We are continuing to do all that we can to ensure that whatever changes we make have the least impact on the community.

"It is worth emphasising the work we have put into prevention and protection."

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