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Fire plan: No risk to Yarmouth public

PUBLISHED: 15:12 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 30 June 2010

A FIRE chief has denied plans to restructure the Norfolk Fire Service would jeopardise public safety in the Great Yarmouth area.

Les Britzman, Norfolk Fire Service area manager for eastern Norfolk, refuted fears plans to axe 14 retained firefighters in Gorleston and replace them with a full time crew and fire engine from Yarmouth would lead to slower response times to incidents.

A FIRE chief has denied plans to restructure the Norfolk Fire Service would jeopardise public safety in the Great Yarmouth area.

Les Britzman, Norfolk Fire Service area manager for eastern Norfolk, refuted fears plans to axe 14 retained firefighters in Gorleston and replace them with a full time crew and fire engine from Yarmouth would lead to slower response times to incidents.

Last week, Gorleston station watch manager Dean Howes said although the first two fire engines would be able to get to a fire quickly, the third and fourth would have to be called from further afield because these would previously have been staffed by the Gorleston retained crew.

The result, he said, would be slower response times.

But Mr Britzman said a third of the recorded incidents in the Yarmouth borough were in Gorleston and having a full time crew there would result in a slighter quicker response time for the first and second fire engines in getting to Gorleston incidents.

He added response times were judged on the first and second fire engines, which were the priority, but third and fourth fire engines would take slightly longer as they would have to come in from such places as Martham, Loddon and Pakefield.

“One of the issues would be when we get a large incident, the fourth engine in this situation might take longer but what you have got to remember is that that is the case across the county.

“We don't place our resources assuming there will be a four or five pump incident in that area. We have got to spread the resources we have got strategically around the county so that we have got the best balance and best resources and if there is a larger incident we can bring in resources from a neighbouring station,” Mr Britzman said.

The proposals are contained in the fire service's Safety Plan, which contains the service's aims and objectives, including replacing a number of second fire engines at rural stations with new specialist vehicles which are better equipped to tackle emergencies in rural areas.

The proposed changes have been drawn up because the fire service needs to save £1.5m between 2011 and 2014.

However, the Plan has to go through a number of consultations before coming to fruition, starting this Tuesday when it will be discussed by the county council's fire and community protection overview and scrutiny committee.

Once the committee has commented, the cabinet will decide on the draft Safety Plan for 2011/14, which will undergo a 12 week public consultation period.

The final Plan will then be discussed by the council's overview and scrutiny panel on September 7 and Cabinet on October 11.


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