FIRE chiefs are warning that Hatherleigh Fire Station is now without fire cover on week days due to a shortage of retained fire crew.

A statement from the fire station said it was ‘now unable to crew the appliance 24/7’, because there were not enough crew working nearby to attend a shout if needed.

‘Due to the personal circumstances of some of our crew changing, we are now unable to crew the appliance 24/7,’ read a post on the station’s Facebook page.

‘There are times, mainly during the day Monday to Friday between 8am and 5.30pm, that the appliance is not available to attend emergency calls meaning the next nearest appliance needs to be alerted, giving a delay of 20 minutes.

‘Although the fire service provides cover from other stations when possible, this is not always available, meaning that the appliance at Hatherleigh, although being on station, doesn’t have enough crew to mobilise.’

Devon Fire and Rescue Service public relations officer Paul Slaven confirmed that there was an ‘urgent’ need to recruit more retained crew living or working within five minutes of the station.

‘While we can move our appliances around to ensure the best possible cover across the service, there will be times when the Hatherleigh appliance is not available and it would take longer for the nearest appliance to attend,’ he said.

‘Our on-call firefighters at Hatherleigh do an amazing job and keep the appliance on the run as often as they possibly can, but if they work away from home during the day, they cannot get back in time to take out the appliance.

‘We are urgently looking for people who live and work locally to help us by considering becoming on-call firefighters at Hatherleigh.’

He said that no previous experience of firefighting was necessary for the role.

The shortage of retained crew reflects the situation in other rural communities across Devon served by retained crew.