Some stations in Dorset and Wiltshire have been reported to be unable to respond to emergency calls due to a shortage of staff despite recruitment drives by the fire service in these counties.
However, the fire leaders confirm that no emergency calls have been left unattended to in spite of this shortage thanks to their usage of fully crewed pumps from other stations.
Locals who reside or work within five minutes of their station have been set up as on-call fire fighters to respond to emergency calls.
The single pump stations which are maintained by on-call staff require 1,176 hours worth of coverage every week. Salisbury has been reported to have a shortfall of 144 hours, while Tisbury loses 378 with Mere falling short by 472 hours.
The larger two-pump stations, like the one in Amesbury, is said to require 2,016 hours to man both pumps and currently face 1,259 hours a week unaccounted for.
“Often we can cover from other areas. We look at an area and where we have provision and what we can do to mitigate it,” Byron Standen, head of prevention and protection, said during the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority local performance and scrutiny committee meeting.
“In some stations, while the second pump won’t be available we have at least one full crew. We have not had one incident where we have not been able to fully attend an accident and see it through to the end.”
The situation has not been helped by 52 serving fire fighters handing in their resignation in the last 16 months after 53 new on-call fire fighters have been recruited over the same period.