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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Part-time fire cover crisis
Firefighter generic
More part time firefighters are required in north Wales
One of north Wales' leading fire officers has warned lives could be at risk following a reduction in the number of retained firefighters in the region.

North Wales Fire Brigade's Divisional Officer Barry Owen said there are a number of vacant posts for daytime cover throughout the region.

"It is a worry and we're aware that there's a problem, we've been recruiting continuously in Mold," he said. "Any delay is a potential threat to people's lives."

The problem appears to have arisen because of a lack of replacements for retained firefighters who are forced to retire at 55.

There is a also a reluctance by some employers to 'loan' their staff out for firefighting duties and traditionally, the fire service has relied on good will by local factories and businesses.

There are 44 fire stations across north Wales, 36 are manned by part-time firefighters - fully-trained personnel who live or work within four miles of the nearest station.

Part time fire stations

A recruitment drive is currently under way - particularly targeting Mold - the worst affected area in north east Wales.

Mr Owen said while they have no difficulty finding night cover, day shifts have become harder to staff.

"For a number of reasons firms aren't prepared to let their personnel leave and most people work away from Mold," he added.

Fire engine
There are 12 retained firefighters in Chirk

Retained firefighter Andy Scarratt said the problem could be solved if full-time workers were allowed to work overtime.

But the fire brigade union stipulates that members cannot carry out extra work outside their shift pattern.

The recruitment crisis in north Wales is mirrored in neighbouring county of Shropshire.

A report published earlier this week said it has become "virtually impossible" to crew appliances in the daytime in some parts of Shropshire.

It also found that some parts of the Shropshire have recently been without enough cover because of the lack of retained staff.

Village drive for firefighters
11 Jan 03  |  Wales
Fears over part-time fire cover
26 May 03  |  Shropshire
'There's no job like it'
27 Nov 02  |  England

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