Fears that Topsham fire crews will be superceded

Concerns were raised last week over the future of Topsham’s retained fire crew after Middlemoor firefighters made a four-mile trip to a shout just a stone’s throw away from the town’s fire station.

The Topsham crew, stationed less than half a mile away from the Elm Grove Road fire in comparison to Middlemoor’s four miles, was not mobilised – though the fire service admitted the town crew would have shaved seconds off the response time.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “It took five minutes and 52 seconds for the Middlemoor appliance to arrive at this incident.

“The average response time for Topsham is five minutes and 22 seconds, although we can’t say exactly how long it would have taken them to get to this incident on that particular day.”

A source close to Topsham’s fire crew, who did not want to be identified, said they believed the decision to send Middlemoor was ‘political’.

“Topsham’s crew is not happy about it. It was on their ground,” said the source.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service denied the new multi-million pound Middlemoor fire station would result in the demise of Topsham’s crew.

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The fire brigade defended its decision to mobilise Middlemoor’s appliance to the incident, saying the two stations overlapped the same ground at certain points of the city.

The crew was called to a car on fire on the road outside the former Elm Grove School, where firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used one hose reel jet to tackle the accidental blaze which gutted 75 per cent of the vehicle.

Acting chief fire officer Trevor Stratford said: “The number of fire appliances mobilised to emergencies is always dependent upon the type of incident.

“In this instance, a car fire of this nature attracted a single fire appliance attendance, as the address was almost on the border of both fire stations operational areas, Middlemoor fire station was mobilised.

“Middlemoor became operational last year and this has required some re-adjustment where some attendances to a wide range of locations has been revised.”

“Clearly there will be occasions where Middlemoor will be mobilised to support Topsham fire station and again occasions where this is reciprocated by Topsham attending incidents on Middlemoor response area.

“Either way, it is always in the interests of local communities that we mobilise the most appropriate fire appliance to an emergency.

“Topsham fire station remains an important part of our operational response arrangements, both locally and within Exeter and the surrounding area.”

Some two years ago a fire service whistleblower feared opening the new Middlemoor station would result in redundancies among Topsham’s crew.

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