Red alert called with the news that Outwell fire station does not have enough staff to cover emergencies

Red alert at Outwell as village fire station struggles to recruit on call firefighters

Red alert at Outwell as village fire station struggles to recruit on call firefighters - Credit: Archant

Outwell does not have enough firefighters to crew an engine in emergencies, it has emerged.

Fire chiefs have admitted they out of sixteen fire stations in Norfolk that are suffering from staff shortages, Outwell has the biggest problem.

The station has just five retained firefighters on its books and, with 12 generally needed to safely staff an engine, it means nearby crews are having to be called out in place of the Outwell crew.

Bosses at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service have given the issue of retained firefighter recruitment a red rating in their list of risks to the service.

In a report which will go to the Norfolk County Council communities committee, officers state: “The performance of a small number of stations in the more rural and sparsely populated areas of the county can have a significant impact upon the overall performance of the service.”

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A county council spokesman said: “It’s always difficult to recruit firefighters to the more remote stations, and Outwell is no exception.

“We currently have one trainee at this station, who will in due course be joining the team, but we’re always looking for more people to sign up to become firefighters.

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“Being a retained firefighter is a hugely rewarding experience, and we would encourage anyone who is interested to contact the service. You would need to live or work within five minutes of your local fire station.”

They said that, in Outwell, there are five on call staff, compared to the standard establishment of 12. The report stated: “A great deal of effort is being put into identifying potential recruits but until the number of staff has increased, the emergency response in this area is provided by Downham Market, West Walton and Wisbech.”

The service says there is currently a shortfall of 27 retained firefighters.

The fire service aims to have fire engines crewed by retained fire fighters available at least 90 per cent of the time, but between April and December last year it was 80.6 per cent.

Figures for January show it has improved slightly to 81.2 per cent.

People can find out more by attending drill nights at stations. Details are available at or by calling the service’s headquarters on 01603 229023.

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