Fire crew may cut to one

PUBLISHED: 10:50 22 May 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 10 June 2010

TOPSHAM'S fire cover could be under threat and its crew forced make a two-and-a-half-mile journey across the city to respond if the fire service opts to relocate one of the town's engines once the new Middlemoor fire station is built.

TOPSHAM'S fire cover could be under threat and its crew forced make a two-and-a-half-mile journey across the city to respond if the fire service opts to relocate one of the town's engines once the new Middlemoor fire station is built.The Topsham crew currently mans two appliances at the town's busy retained High Street fire station, but this could be reduced to one engine from the autumn when the new Middlemoor station is completed in October, writes Becca Gliddon.Fears have been raised from a fire service headquarter insider that Topsham's crew could be split, with half the firefighters facing a journey of up to 25-minutes battling through city traffic to Middlemoor. The HQ whistleblower claims the plan is for Topsham to respond to the new station until a replacement retained crew can be recruited - which could take years.But once that happens, it is feared there will be redundancies at Topsham fire station because of a surplus in crew to man one pump.The source said another option to retain staffing levels was to relocate specialist road traffic accident equipment from Exmouth to Topsham.They added that the Topsham firefighters felt the proposal was a kick in the teeth, as many had given up well-paid jobs to make themselves available 24-hours a day to respond to the town's station.The source said: "Between eight and nine men would be looking at making the journey within 25 minutes - and they have got two men that don't drive."In Topsham they can't always park near their homes and, if they were to come out of their houses at 3am to respond to a shout, their cars could be three streets away - so it would take even longer to respond."Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it was holding a series of meetings with Topsham's retained crew to discuss the options.East Devon area commander Paul Walker said: "The service is exploring a number of possibilities with the intention that no redundancies will be required, the emergency response time and public safety will be maintained and where possible, enhanced."One option may be that the crews from Topsham remain in place and simply benefit from the enhanced training facilities at the new Middlemoor station."No decisions will be taken on the distribution of crews or appliances until a detailed study has been completed with the benefits and implications for all options considered."From the autumn, five fire engines, based at the two whole time stations - in Howell Road and Middlemoor - and Topsham's retained station will provide Exeter and area cover.


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