A leading Norfolk fire officer says Downham Market will have full fire cover following the devastating blaze this morning which has destroyed the town’s station.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Roy Harold says the crew will be using the neighbouring police station for the immediate future and a replacement engine has now arrived.
The service will also be facing a bill of nearly £2 million to replace the station in Ryston Close and its 18-month-old engine. The station has one engine and 12 retained firefighters.
Flames ravaged the seven-year-old retained station during the early hours of this morning (Tuesday, March 11) and fire investigators are hoped to go into the building shortly.
Mr Harold said: “We usually go to other people’s disasters and clear up the rubble. Fire happens to other people and for it to happen to us is difficult to deal with. But it is not the fire station which goes out to people’s fires, it is the engine.
“This is not the end of fire cover in Downham, it will continue.
“The police have been very helpful to us and it has been agreed that Downham will be based in the police station for the immediate future.”
The alarm was raised by police officers at 12.30am this morning after they smelt smoke and members of the retained crew attended.
Mr Harold said: “The appliance bay appears to be where the fire has started which meant they could not get to the engine to use it. The building has pretty much been destroyed and so has the engine.”
Eight fire crews from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire attended the call out, which was put out by 3.30am.
Mr Harold says the station had a fire alarm, which was not hooked up to the main control as the site is only manned during call outs and drills. The station also did not have a sprinkler system.
The fire service has a bank of fully kitted engines, which are used for maintenance cover, and one has been brought from Lynn.
Firefighters’ equipment was also destroyed in the blaze.
The building’s structure is currently being assessed to see if it is safe for fire investigators to go in and start their inquiry.
Mr Harold is expecting the station to be demolished and expects to apply for a Government grant to pay for replacements.
A fully kitted engine costs £300,000 while a new station is expected to cost £1.5 million.