Retained fire Station

Published: 24 October 2019

Following the recent fire in the town, residents came to the Town Council meeting to ask if there is anything that can be done to support the local fire station. Although some people have already applied to become retained firefighters, the Town Council wrote and asked what else  could be done. Here is the letter and the response from the Fire Service. The short answer is that Ongar needs more retained firefighters so there are enough people to cover all the shifts. If you are fit and live or work within five minutes of the fire station, this could be for you. Click here to find-out more.

Dear Mr Hirst. (Police Fire and Crime Commissioner)

At the September meeting, residents attended to ask Ongar Town Council to co-ordinate efforts to return Ongar Retained Fire station to seven-day-a-week operations. Following another serious fire in the town, the residents were concerned that the fire service took so long to attend when there was a tender standing-by but unusable for want of volunteer staff. While it is clear that your equipment has to be properly staffed by people who are working sensible rotas, the resident pointed-out that community was unaware that the fire station was not open at weekends.

I understand that the incident has already generated some interest, and people are now applying to be on-call firefighters but I am sure that more can be done. On behalf of the Town Council, I am writing to request that action be taken to reinstate Ongar Fire Station to full-time availability. As this is a community fire station, I am also asking what more the Town Council and the Ongar community can do to make this happen.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to hearing from you.

This is the reply

Thank you for your email of 26 September 2019 addressed to Mr Hirst, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner regarding the recent meeting whereby residents met to co-ordinate efforts to return Ongar to a seven-day-a-week operations. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has provided some background to the fire which occurred on Saturday 14 September and which very sadly resulted in the loss of a family home.

Ongar Fire Station was off the run at the time of the fire due to a shortage of an officer which meant the station was not available to respond to this incident. Having an appropriately trained officer in Command is essential to ensure a safe working environment for the firefighters. Ongar Fire Station recently lost two officers which has adversely affected availability. The service has moved a dedicated officer into Ongar Fire Station on a temporary basis to increase availability until it is able to promote suitably qualified officers from within the station establishment.

There is an ongoing service wide recruitment programme to increase on-call firefighters and Ongar Fire Station currently have a further six potential firefighters who are at various stages of their application, with two of them potentially being available for fire cover very soon. The recruitment target is to reach a minimum of 13 firefighters for the station which will also improve the availability and resilience of the Station.

The key to maintaining Ongar on the run is ensuring that there are enough on-call firefighters suitably trained and readily available to attend calls. We are working hard to recruit more on-call firefighters to all our on-call stations, including Ongar, and would be grateful for all you can do to encourage applications for on-call firefighters available in Ongar particularly during the working day when we tend to be deficient.  This should ensure that they are available seven days a week to respond to calls.

The service has recently opened up a consultation on the next iteration of the Integrated Risk Management Plan and your views on these issues would be welcomed: Click here for the link.

Yours sincerely

Darren Horsman

Assistant Director for Communications and Engagement