Who responds to incidents near you?
While you may have a fire station nearby, it may not always be a fire engine from that station that responds to an incident in your area.
We have a mixture of wholetime and on-call stations.
- Wholetime firefighters are solely employed by the Service and are at the station 24/7.
- On-call firefighters have other main employment and respond to incidents when alerted.
If your local station is crewed by on-call firefighters, there may be times during the day when there are not enough firefighters available to form a crew to respond to an incident. This could be because the station needs more firefighters and is recruiting. Or it could be that firefighters at that station are unable to respond due to other commitments. The crew from your local station could already be responding to another incident.
On these occasions, crews from neighbouring stations or from elsewhere in Devon and Somerset will respond to the incident.
We have many fire engines across the Service and we constantly move these around to cover areas so that we can maintain our response times.
All of our crews have access to local information so that they can understand the layout of local areas and buildings and any known risks.
What happens during a large incident?
All the emergency incidents we attend have a carefully considered response plan. This plan includes a list of the number and type of appliances, specialist equipment and the number of firefighters needed to bring the incident to a safe and successful conclusion. Usually, the larger the incident the more appliances and specialist equipment are needed, some of which may need to travel greater distances.
Fire Control has a dedicated team whose role includes monitoring emergency fire cover across the whole service area. It will move crews and vehicles around to ensure our communities have the best protection available. For example, at a recent 12-pump incident, 26 vehicles and crews attended in total. This includes the relief crews that were needed by the Incident Commander, who must look after crew welfare during emergency incidents by ensuring other crews are there to take over when firefighters need to take a break or finish their shift.
Fire Control will continue to monitor the requirements at other incidents we are attending and deploy our remaining available resources to meet the risks within our communities.
We also have mutual support arrangements with our neighbouring fire and rescue services where we agree to send appliances and crews to support each other if needed.
Supporting neighbouring services
We also respond to incidents across our borders. This is to support neighbouring services in Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, and Dorset and Wiltshire. These services also send firefighters to incidents within Devon and Somerset.
Occasionally, our crews will support services further away. This will particularly be the case when there are large and ongoing incidents.