North Wales Fire and Rescue Service respond to the FBU statement to reassure local residents following the fire in Church St, Llangefni on Tuesday.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Richard Fairhead said: “Firstly I would like to reassure the public of Anglesey that North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is committed to their safety and work to protect all communities in North Wales equally, providing a professional, efficient and effective service for all who live, work and travel throughout the region.
“Following this incident it has been reported that the reason for crews not being available in Llangefni during this period was as the result of financial cuts. I can confirm that this is not the case and that the crewing arrangements in Llangefni have not been changed in any way.
“Like many of our fire stations, Llangefni operates the Retained Duty System (RDS) and there are times when due to their primary employment some of the part time firefighters are not available to respond to fire calls – however, Llangefni Fire Station has an excellent record of being available for incidents and in July they were available 87% of the time which is positive.
“The fact is that the time taken for the first appliance to reach the incident from the time of the 999 call into our control room was 19 minutes 45 seconds - which is not an unusually long time for a fire and rescue service like ours which covers a large rural area and with an operational workforce predominantly made up of retained or part time firefighters, who firstly must travel to their local fire station to pick up their appliance and equipment, and then travel to the incident.
“We work hard to keep key fire stations available for attending incidents, or ‘on the run’. This involves managing fluctuations in the availability of fire crews from hour to hour, throughout the day, dependent upon their work or other commitments.
“The Service recognises the limitations of the RDS system – it is a problem we have to confront every day and is a symptom of a system which when originally designed, in the 1940s, relied on people who lived and worked in close proximity to their local fire station. Today people often are required to travel longer distances to work and as a result are not available to respond to their local station during the day. “The Service recently completed an RDS firefighter recruitment campaign and employed over 50 new members of staff. We have another recruitment campaign planned for January. In addition North Wales Fire and Rescue Service plans to open a whole-time recruitment process later this year. I would encourage members of the public to keep an eye on our website and social media pages over the next few months and consider applying to join the Service to help protect their community.
“The availability of firefighters is always closely monitored and the public can rest assured that across North Wales we are continually working to maintain optimum availability. However, it is a recognised problem and as a Service we are actively investigating alternative solutions to providing fire cover in North Wales in the future, adding to and enhancing the traditional RDS system adopted by fire and rescue services throughout the UK.
“The cause of the fire in Llangefni has now been established as accidental.
“North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority are keen to hear people’s views on providing affordable services in North Wales. The Fire and Rescue Authority continually reviews and improves the services it provides, and as part of an annual planning process it will be undertaking a public consultation exercise in September.
We would encourage everyone in North Wales to engage and respond with their views. This consultation will be available to view on our website.