Retained support officers plugs gaps

A new way of staffing Norfolk's fire engines, especially in rural areas, has been introduced in Norfolk.Norfolk County Council agreed last year ago to spend �330,000 on employing new retained support officers (RSOs) to help plug gaps in the provision of retained firefighters.

A new way of staffing Norfolk's fire engines, especially in rural areas, has been introduced in Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council agreed last year ago to spend �330,000 on employing new retained support officers (RSOs) to help plug gaps in the provision of retained firefighters.

A review into fire cover in rural areas carried out in 2008 discovered the changing nature of employment was impacting on the availability of retained firefighters.

The review found fewer and fewer employers were based within five minutes of some of the county's rural fire stations, leading to a lack of fire cover during the working day in some areas.


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To address the problem, eight retained support officers have been brought in to work in a flexible way so they can be put in the right fire stations on the right days and solve shortages.

Each retained support officer has been given a 'home' station, one of Fakenham, Downham Market, North Walsham or Hethersett, and aligned with a number of retained stations.

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Fakenham officer Steve Keen has been attached to King's Lynn, Sandringham, Massingham, Heacham and Hunstanton and colleague Ryan Hastings has been attached to his own station plus Wells, Sheringham, Holt and Reepham.

Karl Hain, who is based at Hethersett, has been attached to Dereham, Attleborough, Hingham, Wymondham and North Earlham.

The officers will also help rural stations in other ways including with recruitment, training, risk assessments and arson reduction schemes.

Each RSO has been given a distinctive van carrying fire safety messages and they will be deployed initially to those areas with current low availability in terms of fire cover.

For further information about becoming a retained firefighter and the work of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service visit www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk

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