Posted: Sun 21st Feb 2021

North Wales Fire Service says staff shortages are causing problems after facing challenges responding to Anglesey house fire

North Wales news and information

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service says staff shortages are causing problems after it faced challenges responding to a house fire on Anglesey yesterday.

Shortly after 9am, firefighters were called to an address on Ffordd Meigan in Beaumaris.

Initial reports suggested there may have been people inside the property, but it was later found to be empty.

The region’s fire service said efforts to respond to the fire were made difficult as full crews from Menai Bridge and Beaumaris were not available when the call was received.

The two fire stations are staffed by on-call firefighters, who are called in from home or work in the event of an incident.

Fire chiefs said low staffing levels resulting from recruitment difficulties, people leaving the service and firefighters who are not available due to their main work commitments were all combining to present significant challenges providing a full time emergency response in the area.

A combined crew from Menai Bridge and Beaumaris attended yesterday’s fire, who were supported by two crews from Bangor and an aerial ladder platform from Rhyl.

A joint investigation is underway between North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Police after two people were arrested in connection with the incident.

Stuart Millington, Assistant Chief Fire Officer said: “I would like to commend the quick thinking of our control room staff who alerted crews in both Menai Bridge and Beaumaris and who were then able to combine crews from both locations and attend the incident to begin firefighting as quickly as possible.

“I would also like to commend firefighters who attended the incident and worked hard to bring the fire under control and prevent damage to neighbouring properties.

“Of course our preference would always be to have crews available in each of our fire stations, but this is becoming increasingly difficult in less well populated parts of North Wales.”

Charles Brimecombe, Watch Manager from Beaumaris said: “The demographic in Beaumaris has changed in recent years.

“Many properties have been purchased as summer homes or to be used as holiday lets during the summer months.

“The result of this is that the properties that would have previously accommodated potential firefighter recruits are now empty for much of the year, or are occupied by holiday makers.

“In addition, limited employment opportunities in Beaumaris has led to it becoming increasingly difficult to recruit ‘on-call’ firefighters.

“That said, a recruitment campaign in the early part of 2020 led to a small number of potential recruits for the station, but the COVID pandemic has made it difficult to progress these recruits through all of the necessary tests.

“Dates have already been identified in 2021 to progress those whose recruitment has been delayed by the pandemic. I know that there is another campaign planned to coincide with National On-Call week in March and both Menai Bridge and Beaumaris are included as priority stations for recruitment.”

Gwyn Williams, Watch Manager from Menai Bridge said: “Having crews available during the day is increasingly difficult.

“The days when primary employers would let personnel leave work and attend calls are over.

“There has been service recruitment activity for Menai Bridge and we have 12 people interested in joining the team.

“However, Covid-19 and the disruption to the availability of training has restricted our ability to maintain crewing levels.

“This has meant that these potential firefighters are not currently available to us.

“In addition colleagues from the station have recently retired from the service which leaves us with limited personnel to crew the appliance.

“I am dedicated to keeping Menai Bridge available to the community and am hopeful that the people interested in joining our team will be available once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and the required training courses can fully resume.”

If you would like to find out more about being an ‘on-call’ firefighter then please visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk

The service is currently recruiting in Aberdyfi, Abersoch, Amlwch, Bala, Beaumaris, Benllech, Betws y Coed, Cerrigydrudion, Corwen, Harlech, Llangefni, Llanrwst, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog, St Asaph and Tywyn.



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