Fears over response times when daytime fire cover is reduced in Sidmouth

One of Sidmouth's fire appliances. Picture: Sidmouth Fire Station

One of Sidmouth's fire appliances. Picture: Sidmouth Fire Station - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised about the decision to reduce daytime fire cover in Sidmouth.

The town's fire station currently has two appliances.

But as part of the review of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, the Fire Authority backed a proposal to make only one appliance available during the daytime.

This 'risk-based availability' is based on fire service data showing that daytime fires are often detected in the very early stages and can be extinguished quickly.

At night, fires take a stronger hold before being detected and more resources are needed to tackle them.

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But town councillor Marianne Rixson said the decision did not take into account the many properties in the local area with thatched roofs - which are notorious for burning very quickly if a fire does start.

"There are many thatched cottages in the Sid Valley," she said.

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"A fire can take hold very quickly with a thatched roof. You have more time with a normal roof.

"With a higher response time, would they be able to get there in time to save the property?"

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said:

"We are not changing our attendance times. We will still aim to get the first fire engine to people at fires within 10 minutes and 15 minutess for road traffic collisions.

"We currently achieve this on about 72 per cent of all occasions as outlined in the inspectorate's recent report.

"The Service put forward a range of options which were designed to better match our resources with risk and deliver more prevention and protection activity to help people stay safe in their homes and where they work and visit.

"The 'risk-based availability' means that the first on-call appliances at some fire stations are needed all the time, the second engines only at night so those are the ones that we will pay staff to crew.

"People are more at risk in their homes at night as they are asleep and may not wake up if there is a fire, so we want fire appliances to be available then.

"We have less fires in the day than at night and if an incident does happen during the day people discover fires more quickly and therefore leave the building to a place of safety.

"Although our risk profiling shows that we do not need the second fire engines during the day, we recognise that some firefighters may want to keep them available on a voluntary basis and we are happy for them to make that choice.

"We know prevention is better than cure, so we will use wholetime crews to use some of the second appliances during the day to carry out activities such as safety visits on businesses whilst still being able to respond to emergencies. It's a flexible model, so as risk changes, the model can change."

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