Letter: Shed fire response raises issues

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An Empingham shed fire and the response by our Fire and Rescue service raises issues.

These days, coal fires are now a rarity, they caused many house fires. Risks are further reduced by modern building and electricity regulations, non-inflammable furniture, smoke alarms, fewer tobacco smokers and Rutland youngsters attending the Warning Zone. Adults who play with DIY kit in wooden sheds add to risks.

Fire and Rescue services exist to minimize risk to life and injury. Saving property is very secondary, as these risks can be insured. Taxpayer’s money cannot fund every want. If you are worried about fires, live in a masonry building near a Fire Station. Oakham and Uppingham experienced a reduction in their Fire and Rescue cover whilst three appliances were at Empingham. Fire and Rescue services also operate at Stamford which is near to Empingham.

Stamford has a larger population than Oakham and has benefitted for generations from having volunteer retained firefighters, currently with two appliances. Nationally, this system is in the majority, especially in rural areas. Stamford firefighters do not go on strike. A trial is running in Stamford where the Ambulance and the Fire and Rescue services work jointly from the Fire Station.

For instance, if a medical first responder goes out on a 999 call, an ambulance follows a little later driven by one of a pair of retained firefighters. The medic needs time to assess the patient, by which time the ambulance will be arriving. One firefight can drive the ambulance to hospital with the medic working with the patient in the back. The second firefighter can drive the first responder’s vehicle back to the Fire Station. This seems a wise use of resources in a rural area, giving a reliable, fast and appropriate joint response. I suggest more funding of risk prevention measures such as educating youth about risks of all types (the Warning Zone?) and less funding of full time firefighters.

More lives will be saved in our rural area by Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services working together, employing multi skilled retained volunteers led by a few full timers.

Egerton Gilman