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Fears over cuts to Fakenham fire service

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:18 07 July 2010

Chris Hill

Fears have been raised that proposed cuts in Norfolk's fire service could limit the ability of Fakenham's retained crew to deal with a major blaze.

Jeremy Punchard, a town councillor and retained fireman in Fakenham, raised the issue at the Annual Assembly of the Town Meeting at Fakenham College's conference centre last Tuesday.

Fears have been raised that proposed cuts in Norfolk's fire service could limit the ability of Fakenham's retained crew to deal with a major blaze.

Jeremy Punchard, a town councillor and retained fireman in Fakenham, raised the issue at the Annual Assembly of the Town Meeting at Fakenham College's conference centre last Tuesday.

He asked county councillor David Callaby what his opinion was of the authority's planned cuts which could reduce the Fakenham station's manpower from 20 to 18 and replace one of its two engines with a “rural firefighting vehicle”.

Mr Callaby said: “There is a safety issue with these rural engines. I understand we need a minimum of four people to attend an incident if we have a fire, and these rural engines may not have enough people on them.

“If there is a major fire in Fakenham once they have done this, you are going to have situation where you have to rely on a second pump coming from somewhere like Cromer.”

Another question was raised as to why an enlarged fire station with better access was not planned as part of the proposed northward expansion of Fakenham. An 800-home development is planned under North Norfolk District Council's local development framework documents, which is awaiting the scrutiny of a government inspector.

The district's economic development manager Steve Blatch said, although the scheme included a new primary school, the authority had not been asked to provide for a new fire station in the plans.

Mr Punchard said: “We are a retained station and we have to respond within four minutes. If you moved the station it would mean that most of us could not reach it within four minutes.”

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