Manea Fire Station has launched an urgent SOS for new on-call firefighters to help keep the station open.
Two years after the station was under threat due to funding cuts, it is struggling to survive once again – this time due to a lack of retained crew.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has now launched a recruitment drive urging people to “sign up or possibly lose” the station.
Watch commander Mark Milner, who has served Manea for nearly 12 years, said a recruitment drive 18 months ago attracted a few potential on-call firefighters for the station but only one went on to complete the training and he has since left due to personal commitments.
The station currently has six on-call firefighters, but the service needs to increase this number to ensure there are enough people available to cover call-outs – especially at night and at weekends when more people are at home.
Mr Milner said: “People could see the training nights as an alternative to going to the gym. It is enjoyable to learn new skills and it is not only an opportunity to socialise and meet new people but also to serve the community.
“Two years ago we were fighting to keep Manea Fire Station open because of cutbacks, now we are fighting to keep it open because we are struggling to get the number of firefighters needed.
“We really don’t want to see our community fire station closed, so it is a question of sign-up or possibly lose it.”
The SOS call has been backed by Fenland MP Steve Barclay who met with Mr Milner and other members of Cambs Fire and Rescue Service last week to discuss the recruitment problem.
Mr Barclay said: “We fought long and hard to keep Manea fire station open, I personally got involved by pointing out other ways the fire service could cut costs, like reducing the number of press officers it had.
“Now the fire station is under threat again, but this time it is not about money, it is about firefighter numbers and we need people who live and/or work within five minutes of the station to step up. I am writing to all residents urging them to sign-up.”
Mr Milner said applications to become a firefighter are welcome from both men and women.
There is no upper age limit, the only requirement is to be fit and healthy, and all recruits receive full training.
On-call firefighters are paid almost £3,000 a year retaining fee and then £13 an hour for call-outs, drill sessions and other work (not including training), with an average of two call-outs a month.
In return recruits will have to attend weekly training nights, which are held every Thursday for two hours. Firefighters also get five weeks paid holiday a year.
Anyone interested should pop along to the fire station in Westfield Road on any Thursday between 7pm and 9pm, or visit the website www.cambsfire.gov.uk for further information.
Those interested can also book a place on a Have-a-Go day being held at Huntingdon Fire Station this Saturday.
It is being held from 9am-noon, with a women-only session taking place from 1pm-4pm. To book a place call 01480 444500.