Village answers fire station SOS

Manea Gala committee who want to donate some money to try and keep Manea fire station running left to right cllr Mark Archer, Mark Buckton, Tony Burton (fire fighter), Paul Fox (ch Manea gala), Kev Keil and Stephen Short
Manea Gala committee who want to donate some money to try and keep Manea fire station running left to right cllr Mark Archer, Mark Buckton, Tony Burton (fire fighter), Paul Fox (ch Manea gala), Kev Keil and Stephen Short
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VILLAGERS are planning to put their money where their mouth is and donate cash raised by the annual gala to help keep their fire station open.

Manea’s Gala Committee has come up with the idea of handing over the proceeds of this year’s event on July 9 to Cambridgeshire Fire Service to prove just how strongly the village feels over threats to close the fire station.

The village fire station is under threat of closure as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures announced by the county’s Fire Service.

But the proposal has angered villagers who feel the move could endanger the lives of people not just in Manea but across Fenland.

The fire service argues the station in Westfield Road is not cost effective because of the low number of call-outs it attends annually.

However, Fenland councillor and Manea Gala Committee member, Mark Archer said figures used to come up with the proposals were not a fair reflection of the station’s performance. He claimed call-outs where the fire appliance was used as back-up or relief were not counted.

Mr Archer also claimed the Fire Service had been looking to close Manea station for many years and was using the current economic climate as an opportunity to finally get its way.

Mr Archer said one of the main reasons the village crew does not attend many call-outs is the lack of qualified drivers.

If the Gala Committee gets its way the money raised by this year’s event, expected to be £3,000 to £4,000 based on previous years’ profits, could go towards training a driver.

Committee chairman Paul Fox, who came up with the proposal, said the feeling in the village was very strong with residents fully behind saving the fire station.

Members backed his idea when they met on Monday to start putting up the gala bunting through the village.

He said: “The Gala Committee is hoping our proposals will be a display of the real determination amongst members of the community that this is more than a battle of statistics and words and that financial support could also be made available.”

He added: “I have no problem to personally admit that on two occasions the Manea Fire Brigade has played a major role in saving members of my family and property.”

A final decision on the Manea station is not likely to be made until early next year once a full business case has been devised.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “The cost of training a driver is not the reason the station only has one driver currently. A number of firefighters recently left Manea and some of them were drivers. There are three firefighters at the station going through the process of becoming a driver. It is a complex course with a number of stages, including medicals. Those undertaking it also have to complete three months or 300 miles of non-emergency driving.

“One of the firefighters at Manea should complete the training course in September, which will mean there are then two drivers at the station.”

He added the fire service would be happy to talk to the committee about its offer.