The speedy rescue of a woman from a house fire in Exmouth on Monday has demonstrated how thin the town’s fire cover would be under proposed cuts.
An East Devon fire service source warned the night-time Lovelace Crescent blaze’s quick outcome ‘would have been a different story’ if proposed fire service cuts go ahead to slash Exmouth’s night time cover for on-call crewing.
The fire service source said: “The whole-time pump from Exmouth was there and carried out the rescue before the retained pump arrived.
“It would have been a very different story if the whole-time crew wasn’t there.
“Exmouth was backed up by Budleigh, who wouldn’t be there after the cuts, with Topsham on stand-by at Exmouth – who also wouldn’t be there after the cuts.
“It demonstrated how thin the cover for Exmouth would be if the changes go ahead.”
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSRFS) said fire engines from Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton were ‘quickly mobilised’ to Monday’s Lovelace Crescent bedroom blaze, after fire control received a call reporting a house on fire with somebody still inside the property.
Last week DSFRS announced a Fire Authority meeting to decide any changes to the way the fire service operates was postponed to December, because of the ‘high response’ to the 12-week Safer Together consultation, which ended in September.
DSFRS said the ‘large amount of submissions’ required more time to ‘thoroughly review’ the consultation responses.
A Fire Authority meeting to review the consultation results, scheduled for November, has been moved to Wednesday, December 18, to allow for more time.
Lee Howell, DSFRS Chief Fire Officer, said: “I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have taken the time to share their views through the consultation.
“It has been a great opportunity to openly discuss our challenges and proposed solutions with people across our two counties.
“I appreciate that moving the decision extends the uncertainty for our staff and communities who are affected by the proposals.
“We don’t take any proposals to close stations or remove fire engines lightly which is why it is vital that we take time to thoroughly analyse and carefully consider the responses.”
Cash saving cuts proposed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue include downgrading Exmouth’s 24/7-crewed fire station, to day crew and night-time on-call.
Shutting fire stations at Budleigh Salterton and Topsham are included in fire service cash saving plans.
If the cuts go ahead, Exmouth at night will have to wait for two retained crews to arrive at the Salterton Road base before the fire engines can leave the station. Budleigh Salterton fire station will be permanently closed.
Topsham fire station will also close permanently, and one of the town’s fire engine and crew will relocate to Middlemoor.
Currently, Exmouth has a fulltime 24/7 crew at the station – ready to respond immediately, plus a retained crew – on-call firefighters who are alerted by pager to crew a second fire engine.
Budleigh and Topsham has retained, on-call, crew and frequently backs up Exmouth’s fire engines.
The proposals aim to cut fire engines and close stations in areas considered by DSFRS to be ‘low risk and low activity’ in favour of reinvesting in prevention work, which the service says will reduce the risk of incidents. occurring.
During the 12-week consultation, the service received around 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions.
The responses are being independently analysed by Opinion Research Services (ORS) who will feedback its findings to the Fire Authority.