Lives not at risk in Redruth despite "short-term" staffing issues
A SHORTAGE of retained firefighters in Redruth is not putting lives at risk, according to a fire chief.
Two on-call firefighters are on sick leave, one has resigned, two have joined the whole-time service and a sixth member of staff has been suspended over a disciplinary matter.
But deputy chief fire officer Paul Walker has this week denied that what he called "short-term staffing issues" would endanger the public and confirmed the service was mobilising Camborne as a back-up.
He said: "We are experiencing some short-term staffing difficulties but we always knew that in the run-up to opening a new station at Tolvaddon there may be some difficulties.
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"But I do not want to recruit new firefighters for Redruth with the new station opening next year. We have also got two full-time firefighters who live in Redruth helping to maintain cover in the area. These are short-term issues."
But Cornwall councillor Ian Thomas, for Redruth South, who retired from the fire service as an assistant chief officer in 2009 after 22 years, was "horrified" and said: "The news that we are six on-call firefighters down is shocking yet unsurprising – that is more than a whole appliance crew.
"The decision to effectively close Redruth by moving the fire cover arrangements and response to Tolvaddon is obviously going to impact on morale and performance, but, of course, it is the decisions of those in the authorities which is actually increasing the risk on the people they serve.
"To say that whole-time cover will be provided by Camborne, never mind Tolvaddon, is not good enough. The proposed fire cover arrangements for Redruth should be reviewed."
Councillor Lisa Dolley, for Redruth North, led a campaign last year to save Redruth fire station and now said she was "upset and dismayed" by the failure to recruit more staff. She said: "I was assured by Mr Walker that the move to Tolvaddon would not mean a reduction in staffing levels.
"With the new stations at Tolvaddon and Hayle still in the development stages, I envisage it being at least 12 months before they are up and running."
The new fire station in Tolvaddon is expected to open in May next year, two months later than anticipated.
Mr Walker has said this was due to some design changes following public consultation.
The planning applications will be considered by Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee on August 1 or 29.