Norfolk bosses thanked for fire-fighting aid

Peter WalshNorfolk's top fire officer has saluted employers in the county who allow their staff to help save lives as retained firefighters.Peter Walsh

by Simon Finlay>

Norfolk's top fire officer has saluted employers in the county who allow their staff to help save lives as retained firefighters.

Richard Elliott, chief fire officer for Norfolk, attended a reception for employers who allow their staff to respond to emergencies across the county so he could offer his gratitude.

The event, at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's Bowthorpe Training Centre, near Norwich, featured a number of demonstrations by the county's retained crews.

Mr Elliott said: 'In Norfolk we are heavily reliant upon our firefighters who work on a retained basis - in fact 39 of our 41 fire stations have at least one retained fire crew. These are people who live and work in their community and who carry a pager allowing them to respond to emergencies.

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When our retained firefighters are alerted they must leave whatever they are doing for their main employer and turn out to crew our fire engines. This means we are hugely reliant on the goodwill and commitment of those employers, without whom our service would not exist. I am delighted to be able to hold this reception for representatives for a number of our employers.'

Kevin Webster, a director at Wroxham-based boat builders Landamores was one of the employers represented at the reception.

He said the company had supported the fire service by providing retained firefighters for the past 50 years.

Mr Webster, 54, said: 'It's just something the company has always done - supported the local community by allowing our people to go freely. It's very important and as a company we're keen to support it.'

Tony Kingsmill, 41, an electrician with Landamores, said he loved the variety that being a retained firefighter provided.

He said: 'You learn new skills every day and you're putting something back into the community. It's something you can look back on and feel that you've helped saved someone's life or property.'

Toby Carter, 23, a boatbuilder at Landamores, said that being a retained firefighter was an enjoyable extension to his working life.

Another employer at the event was Marilyn Aldous, 60, from Attleborough-based decorating product manufacturer Hamilton Acorn - a company which was also represented by retained fire-fighter David Briggs, 23, a site operative at the firm.

She said: 'As an employer we want to support the local community and this is one way of doing that. It's important for people to employee retained firefighters because if you don't then there wouldn't be any cover - we need to support them.

'The reason that David is able to do so much is he works with good work mates who cover for him when he's not there. We're very proud of him as he does a great job.'

Harry Humphrey, the county council's cabinet member of fire and community protection said the event was a chance to say a big thank you to the employers of retained firefighters.

He said: 'To allow employees the flexibility to leave their duties at a moment's notice takes a great deal of understanding.'

Are you a retained firefighter who has helped save someone's life? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email