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EDITIONS
Friday, 22 November, 2002, 09:31 GMT
Question mark over red engines
soldiers red fire engines
Soldiers train on the red fire engines
Devon Fire Authority is to release seven red fire engines to the military, as firefighters in the South West joined the national eight-day strike.

But it is not clear whether the engines will stay in the region.

The move follows a call by the government for every fire authority to make red fire engines available to support the military's Green Goddesses.

The military is expected to receive a total of about 100 red engines.

goddess
Green Goddesses will support retained firefighters
Five reserve engines and two older appliances no longer in service will be released in Devon, but they could go to other areas of the country that need them more urgently.

Devon and Cornwall are relatively well equipped with red fire engines, especially in rural areas where retained firefighters - who are not on strike - form the backbone of the firefighting service.

About 46 out of 58 stations in Devon are fully staffed by retained firefighters and in Cornwall 24 fire stations are fully staffed by retained firefighters.

Strike force
Devon: 557 full-time firefighters. 744 retained
Cornwall: 181 full-time firefighters. 425 retained
Christopher Leslie, the fire safety minister, said: "There are a number of reserve fire engines which we are considering putting into use and certainly we want to make sure that there is adequate cover including in this region.

"We haven't made decisions, we have to remain flexible and look at where the risk is greatest."

Devon's chief fire officer Paul Young said: "We don't know whether we will get these red fire engines at the moment.

"But the fire authority is going to express the view as forcibly as it can that it would hope that there would be a net improvement in fire cover in Devon as a result."

Rift fear

Mr Young said he feared that friction between retained firefighters and those on strike might damage the fire service in the region.

He said: "There is always the danger that there is going to be a rift between them and overcoming those differences is going to be very difficult in the longer term."

Picket lines at fire stations across Devon and Cornwall were in place again on Friday.

There are 12 Green Goddess fire engines in Devon and six in Cornwall.

Operations centre

All are manned by about 400 military personnel - mainly Royal Navy - and co-ordinated from the police headquarters in Exeter.

During the last, 48-hour firefighters' strike, there were 300 emergency fire service call-outs in the region, but only about half requiring a Green Goddess to attend.

Emergency 999 calls made in Devon are being dealt with directly by the joint operations centre during the strike.

Emergency calls made in Cornwall are first dealt with by the county's fire control room and then referred to the joint operations centre if required.


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Click here to go to BBC Cornwall

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See also:

15 Nov 02 | England
14 Nov 02 | England
13 Nov 02 | England
13 Nov 02 | England
13 Nov 02 | England
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