Decision due on merger of Burwell and Swaffham fire stations

PUBLISHED: 08:08 07 October 2013 | UPDATED: 08:08 07 October 2013

The proposed  fire station which could be built in Burwell

The proposed fire station which could be built in Burwell

Archant

Cambridgeshire's Fire Authority will vote today (Thursday) on whether to officially merge Burwell and Swaffham Bulbeck fire stations.

Burwell Fire StationBurwell Fire Station

A consultation was launched by the fire service earlier this year to get the public’s view on the plans which, it says, were proposed because both existing stations are ‘unfit for purpose’.

The service has also had problems recruiting enough on-call firefighters to man the Swaffham Bulbeck station in recent years, with just four staff currently available of the 12 that are recommended by the service for round-the-clock availability.

During the consultation, the service leafleted every property in Burwell and Swaffham Bulbeck and received 152 responses, representing 1.7 per cent of combined populations of the wards, a response the service admitted was “extremely low”.

Swaffham Bulbeck Fire Station.Swaffham Bulbeck Fire Station.

Of the responses, the service said that 88 per cent agreed with the plans to combine the two fire stations to create a single state-of-the-art station with parking and community amenities at Reach Road in Burwell.

The remaining 12 per cent, or 18 respondents, said they were against the idea.

Chris Strickland, Cambridgeshire’s deputy chief fire officer, acknowledged in a YouTube interview that closing the fire station in Swaffham Bulbeck would inevitably lead to longer response times in the village.

But he insisted that, taken as an average, it would only add 13 seconds to response times in the “east of the county”.

He said: “Because the population is so small in that area we are struggling to crew the appliances. We are going to get to a point where the fire engine never turns up because we really are struggling to crew it.”

If the fire authority approves the decision, the remaining Swaffham crew members will be transferred to the new, purpose built Burwell station once it is complete.

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