Call for more Firefighters

Cleobury Mortimer's firefighters with their new fire engine in the town's High Street. Front, left to right, Sub Officer Graham Phillips, Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor and Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority chairman Nigel Hartin

Cleobury Mortimer has got a brand new fire engine - and now it wants more firefighters to prevent potentially "dire" consequences from a serious daytime blaze, warned Shropshire's fire chief.

A laboratory fire at Lacon Childe school last year in which it was initially feared children were trapped had highlighted the need for more firefighters and better equipment, said Alan Taylor, Chief Fire Officer for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

"We now have ten firefighters at Cleobury but we need more here and at Much Wenlock and Craven Arms. Some of the crew work out of Cleobury during the daytime and it takes 20 minutes for a fire appliance to get here from Ludlow. That could be too late."

Civil engineer Wayne Smith, who turns out for the local fire service from 5pm and at weekends, said: "I can be away working all over Shropshire or in Birmingham during the day and some of my colleagues also work out of Cleobury. We need more people from the town to train as firefighters to cover during the day."

Mr Nigel Hartin, chairman of the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority, said that every fire appliance operating from rural fire stations was being upgraded to an XL Cab, capable of carrying eight firefighters, as part of an £824,000 cash boost.

"We want to give our firefighters the best possible equipment to help save lives."

The new fire appliance which replaces a six seater P registered vehicle was given a warm welcome when it was officially handed over at the weekend.

Gill Davies, a former landlady at the Kings Arms who works at J.L.Cope family butcher's in the High Street, said: "I saw them at a fire yesterday and I was impressed. It is really important that rural areas do not get forgotten. This is excellent for Cleobury Mortimer."

Sub Officer Graham Phillips said that the new cab meant that firefighters from Cleobury were better equipped to deal with emergencies and were not so reliant upon help from neighbouring stations. More hi-tec equipment was also able to be carried on board to quickly cut free people trapped in the wreckage of their cars after a road crash.

Similar eight seater fire engines had now arrived at fire stations in Albrighton, Clun, Ellesmere, Prees and Much Wenlock. Cleobury's old fire appliance will now form part of the service's reserve fleet.

15th January, 2007