Questions over plans to take fire engine away from town

Fakenham mayor Gilly Foortse says questions from town councillors about the impact of the change rem

Fakenham mayor Gilly Foortse says questions from town councillors about the impact of the change remain unanswered. - Credit: Archant

One of two fire engines at Fakenham Fire Station is to be lost due to cost-cutting measures, with a 4x4 fire vehicle to fill its place before the end of the year.

This comes as part of a county-wide revision by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services, underway since 2010. Similar replacements are being made in Cromer.

Fakenham Fire Station currently maintains a 99.7pc availability rate of staff, with a waiting list of those wanting to become retained firefighters. This is high compared to other stations in the area, meaning the station's staff can attend more than their share of incidents.

Because of this, the imminent growth of the town and its central location, Fakenham town councillors feel the station should retain both engines and receive the 4x4 in addition. It said decisions made several years ago under austerity measures should be re-examined now cutbacks are no longer being made.

Questions from Fakenham Town Council were put to county councillor Tom FitzPatrick in May.

When the county council did not provide answers at this month's full town council meeting, on Tuesday, mayor Gilly Foortse said she was "very disappointed no attention was paid to the concerns raised".

Greg Preston, assistant chief fire officer from the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said: "Fakenham currently has two fire appliances and it will continue to have two vehicles in the future.

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"One of these will be a 'traditional' fire engine and the second will be a brand new 4x4 vehicle with a range of specialist equipment. This means we can equip crews with the equipment they need to effectively tackle a wider range of incidents, such as wildfires and flooding, that sadly are becoming more commonplace."

The full capabilities of the new vehicle are unclear even to firefighters at the station, since the new appliances are still being assembled. The EDP previously reported on the roll-out of similar 4x4 vehicles in 2012. The smaller vehicles are more manoeuvrable than traditional engines, and have wildfire-fighting equipment such as a fogging unit, which creates a mist of water to dampen large areas.

The 'reimagnining' of the fire service is part of the largest changes since the 1940s to the country's fifth largest county fire service; aiming to adapt to climate change and growing population.