Friday, 21 September 2018

Future of fire station looks brighter with four recruits

THE future of Wargrave fire station has been boosted after the recruitment of four new firefighters.

THE future of Wargrave fire station has been boosted after the recruitment of four new firefighters.

Their arrival means the Victoria Road station now has eight on-call firefighters, twice the number 18 months ago.

The recruits have been joined by a new retained support officer, whose job is to fill in for members of fire crews around Berkshire as well as taking part in community projects and recruitment drives.

In June 2014, the Henley Standard reported that the station was under threat after the departure of two-thirds of its firefighters in the previous two years. 

It meant that if one of the remaining four retained firefighters resigned, the station would no longer be allowed to respond to 999 calls and could be forced to close.

The station used to have a crew of 12 before long-serving watch manager Tony Annetts retired after 41 years of service in 2012.

Crew manager Mark Willis then left and was followed by six others, most of whom were moving away from the area.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service held several recruitment drives to attract newcomers and says that staffing at the station is now “positively improving”.

Assistant chief fire officer Paul Southern said: “During the latter part of 2014, Wargrave saw some members of staff leave the service for a variety of reasons. 

“Despite regular recruitment campaigns, the service has experienced difficulties in recruiting retained firefighters.  The crewing levels at Wargrave were relatively low and the departures impacted on the fire engine availability.

“Following a recruitment campaign last autumn, we have successfully recruited four new retained firefighters for Wargrave. 

“The addition of the new recruits has led to an improvement in fire engine availability at Wargrave.

“On weekdays, a retained support officer also attends Wargrave fire station to ensure the fire engine is available for emergency calls.  Consequently, the availability of the fire appliance at Wargrave has significantly improved.”

Wargrave is a retained fire station, meaning firefighters respond from their home or workplace rather than being based at the station. If the station is unable to respond for any reason, the call is dealt with by a nearby station.

Similarly, Wargrave can also provide cover for other stations including Henley.

In 2013, Wargrave shared cover for call-outs with the Henley crew as both stations were suffering from a shortage of firefighters. However, the deal was scrapped after six months when the Henley station recruited five more people.

Mr Southern said Wargrave and other stations were still recruiting. Anyone interested should be 18 or over and have a good standard of fitness.

They must also live or work within six minutes of the station and be able to respond to calls as quickly as possible. To apply, visit

• Wargrave fire station has applied to Wokingham Borough Council for permission to replace its fire bay door. The new door, at the entrance to the garage where the fire engine is stored between  call-outs, would have perspex windows.

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