Concerns over plans to replace fire engines with 4x4 vehices at five Norfolk stations
PUBLISHED: 17:58 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:16 21 June 2019
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Fire engines are being replaced with 4x4 vehicles at stations across Norfolk as part of cost-cutting measures.
Diss, Fakenham and Wymondham fire stations will all be losing one of their larger, traditional fire engines and receiving a 4x4 unit as a replacement, while Cromer and Sandringham have already lost their engines.
A fire service spokesman said the 4x4 vehicles will not carry ladders and will not be classed as a front line appliance. They will not attend a house fire on their own and will act as a support vehicle.
They can carry one ton of equipment compared to the 18 tons of a regular fire engine.
The precise specifications of the units remain unclear to many in the areas affected, but Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service highlight their maneuverability compared to a six-wheeled engine.
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Greg Preston, assistant chief fire officer from the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The new 4x4 vehicles equip crews to effectively tackle a wider range of incidents, such as wildfires and flooding, that sadly are becoming more commonplace".
County councillor for Cromer Tim Adams is concerned a 4x4 unit would not significantly add to the service.
He said: "What concerns me is of course the reduced capacity of the vehicles, but also the unclear procedures around when they are used. Obviously firefighers will use the main engine first, so the 4x4s will surely have a reduced role, and they're no good sitting around."
Fakenham has recently marked the fifth anniversary of the town's biggest fire in living memory and town councillors are dismayed by the loss of their fire engine.
Fakenham town councillor George Acheson said: "It seems short-sighted to take equipment away from a growing town, which has proven it has the workforce to provide good cover."
Councils in Diss and Wymondham were not aware of the changes being made, while Sandringham Parish Council await a report.
This comes in the week that Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services were told several areas of their service need to improve by the fire service inspector. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said "For the last four years, the service has not based its annual financial planning on risk and demand. The service has cut costs recently, and this has come at the expense of resilience and capacity."