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A year in the life of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

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With record calls, a very busy summer, new life-saving equipment and a good inspection result, 2018 was a demanding and memorable year for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS).

A fire at Wisbech was among a surge in call-outs for Cambs Fire Service during last year's heatwave.
A fire at Wisbech was among a surge in call-outs for Cambs Fire Service during last year's heatwave.

Crews from stations up and down the county were kept busy attending more than 7,000 incidents, including fires, rescues and road traffic collisions, as well as supporting other services in neighbouring counties.

The Combined Fire Control, which also serves residents and mobilises fire engines to incidents in Suffolk, took more than 18,000 calls, of which 11,000 were received from Cambridgeshire residents. The summer period saw significant numbers of calls due to the hot and dry weather conditions, which caused a large amount of fires in the open across both counties.

Of the incidents attended by Cambridgeshire crews attended, more than 2,100 were fires, either in homes, buildings or outdoors. Crews also responded to 491 road traffic collisions, 126 animal rescues and 55 rescues in water.

Responding to incidents however is just part of the picture. Staff across different areas of the Service completed more than 10,000 hours of community safety activity across Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough). This ranged from visiting vulnerable people in their homes to carry out safe and well visits, to engaging with businesses and community groups.

Around 13 per cent of this activity was completed by crews on the new roaming fire engines, which were introduced in January. These fire engines are crewed during daytime hours and based in rural locations, providing additional fire cover for emergency calls, particularly in the areas where the local on-call fire engine is not available. During the year they attended more than 400 incidents while also delivering community safety activity.

At the end of 2018, CFRS was named as one of the two best performing fire and rescue services of 14 services inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS). The Inspectorate found the Service was one of only two services who were 'good' across the entire inspection process, and one of only two services who were ‘good’ across every aspect of looking after their people.

The Service also welcomed more than 50 new firefighters during 2018, who joined wholetime and on-call stations across the county. Combined Fire Control also welcomed 14 new members of staff.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “This has been a challenging year for our staff across the Service. We faced unprecedented spate conditions in the summer due to the weather and staff stood up to the task and performed exceptionally well. This hard work was evident throughout the year as we saw more emergency calls and attended more incidents then in 2017.

“We have managed to increase our community safety activity in rural areas, as well as having extra fire engines available to respond to incidents. This activity remains crucially important as we aim to reach those vulnerable residents and ensure they are safe from fire in their homes, as well as continuing to engage with the business community.

“We’ve also embraced new technology with portable misting systems which have been installed in the homes of those most at risk from fire and we’ve seen these successfully activate and save lives already.”

“I want to thank staff across the Service for their continued hard work in serving the people of Cambridgeshire. The inspection result that arrived in December shows how well we are performing and I am very proud to work with such dedicated and passionate people. I am sure 2019 will bring us further challenges but we will rise to these and do all we can to continue to keep the people of Cambridgeshire safe.”

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