A SHORTAGE of retained firefighters meant that more than 200 fire service call-outs were not attended by a crew from the nearest station in Suffolk last year.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that many rural fire stations had trouble raising a five-man crew – meaning the nearest station could not dispatch a crew for 204 emergency calls, with firefighters sent from further afield.
Among stations unable to respond to incidents last year were Nayland, which missed 28 call-outs, and Hadleigh, which missed nine.
Most of Suffolk is covered by 453 part-time firefighters attached to 35 retained fire stations, including the ones at Sudbury and Hadleigh, responding to incidents as and when they happen. Some towns and villages struggle to find enough recruits, who need to live and work close by to offer 24/7 cover.
The only fire stations in the county staffed full-time are at Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Lowqestoft.
Phil Embury, assistant chief fire officer for Suffolk, said the proportion of calls that nearest stations could not respond to was 2.5 per cent.
He said Suffolk County Council was investing in a new monitoring system to reduce the percentage.
“Some of our stations have more availability problems than others and in these areas we are actively recruiting more personnel,” he added.