Fire crews under siege

Fire crews under siege

21 July 2006

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England, UK — Fire crews are being stretched to the limit tackling grass fires – most of which have been started by arsonists during South Yorkshire’s blisteringheatwave.

And it has cost the taxpayer £625,000 to put them out.

Between Friday morning and 10am yesterday 379 grass fires were reported.

Of those, 317 were started deliberately leaving firefighters racing from one job to the next covering blazes across thecounty.

The heatwave has made conditions ripe for the fires to spread.

On Tuesday alone firefighters dealt with nearly 800 incidents across South Yorkshire. A spokesman said they were mainly grass fires, fires in the open, fires at derelict properties and children messing about withmatches.

The Fire Service is under so much pressure to respond to calls about the blazes, non-operational firefighters working in the community or behind desks have been told they may be needed to help out.

Staff have been asked to work overtime and retained firefighters have also been working around theclock.

Fire chiefs are liaising with other brigades across the country about using any spareengines.

The massive grass fire problem has come in the same week time that the brigade dealt with two major factory blazes in Sheffield – the most serious at Fletchers Bakery in Wadsley Bridge, which has been attended by over 60 appliances since it broke out on Sunday and as of yesterday afternoon had cost £121,705 to dealwith.

A fire at an umbrella factory on Richmond Park Road, Richmond, on Tuesday was attended by 13 appliances and cost £12,512.

Station officer Darren Staniland, from Mansfield Road fire station, described the last few days as”chaotic”.

“We have all been absolutely inundated with calls about grass fires.

“We find ourselves running from one job to the next without time to breathe. We are managing to cope but it is at the expense of us having to cancel a lot of our pro-active work such as communityengagements.

“People also need to realise the wellbeing of firefighters is at risk too because the more fires they deal with the more risk there is to them.”

Station manager Kev Ronan, from Elm Lane fire station, said: “We can’t be everywhere at once so if we are tied up dealing with these incidents and a fire comes in where lives or property are at risk, appliances from other station areas are having torespond.

Watch manager Andy Eatonis urging parents to stress to children the dangers of arson attacks and is warning smokers to extinguish cigarettes carefully.


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