Concern after wait for help

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A FARMER says he fears for public safety after fire crews took almost half-an-hour to attend a fire at his farm, writes Frances Leate.

An employee of David Walker, of Hermitage Farm, Clare, dialed 999 after around 80 bales of hay caught alight.

A retained fire crew rushed to Clare Fire Station but were unable to take out the fire engine because there was no manager on duty.

Instead, a crew had to be called from Long Melford, more than seven miles away.

The angry farmer said he lost £4,000 of hay in the blaze but said he was more concerned about public safety.

He said: “I feel quite strongly about this because if it had been a house fire in Clare, with someone trapped upstairs, and fire crews had to be called in from elsewhere, it could result in someone losing their life.

“I would really like to see something done about this because I would hate to see that happen.

“It seems to be about poor management more than anything – they need to make sure the station is properly staffed.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “The availability of on-call appliances is consistently over 95 per cent.

“However, there are some incidents where on-call crews are unavailable.

“This can be for a number of reasons; sickness, annual leave or absence due to other employment commitments.

“When a retained crew is unavailable to attend an incident the nearest available crew is sent.

“We want to reassure residents that whenever we have a call informing us that a person is at risk, we attend with more than one crew.”

She added: “We are currently recruiting on-call fire fighters. If anyone is interested in finding out more, please get in touch.”