Scilly’s Fire Service Presents Plans For Future

fire engine lloyds bankA senior islands’ fire officer has described the improvements made to our fire service and their plans for the next five years.

Howard Cole told councillors at last Tuesday’s General Purposes meeting that the number of fires they attended in Scilly had reduced steadily since 2004 with rates lower than comparable areas such as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The information was contained in fire service’s Integrated Risk Management report, which will define how the service will develop over the next five years and will now go out for public consultation.

The report says that the recent fire-related death, which occurred on St Mary’s last year, is the first since records began.

St Agnes councillor, Richard McCarthy, said the fire service on the off-islands had “improved no end” and people needed to be reminded of the investment that had been put in.

However, he said there had been recent problems with sufficient cover at holiday times. Steve said boats are now made available for the off-islands’ services to back each other up.

Richard also commended the low levels of chimney fires that now occurred, something that had been targeted over the past few years. The report says that the service was seeing a persistent problem in 2009 with chimney fires, but worked to promote the services of the local chimney sweep to target high-risk properties, backed up by a publicity campaign.

In twelve months, the numbers of chimney fires reduced by 25 per cent and the following year they were reduced by a further 25 per cent.

The service has also invested in new equipment to allow fires above the Garrison arch on St Mary’s to be fought. Previously fire tenders couldn’t fit through the gateway.

But Cllr Mike Nelhams questioned why the report highlighted an increasing risk of a serious motor accident occurring on St Mary’s, although Mr Cole gave no reason. And Cllr McCarthy also queried the statement that St Martin’s now has 130 vehicles, which he said is more than one for every resident.

The reports authors have used comparisons with fire departments in a number of other remote communities including the Falkland Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, King Island in Australia, James Island in the USA and Hornby Island Fire Service in Canada.

Over the past years, exercises have been carried out for foot and mouth, fuel crisis, anti-terrorism, tsunami, flooding, pandemic flu, fire fighters strike, chemical spillage, and various incidents at St Mary’s and Tresco airports.

The report highlighted risks from Scilly’s aging transport infrastructure, particularly the speed of mobilising specialist support from the mainland.

And the authors say military back up could become difficult following the closure of the air sea rescue station at Culdrose, Cornwall in 2014. This was questioned by Cllr McCarthy, who said he believed a new contractor will be operating the service from there as part of the government’s privatisation of air-sea rescue.

Councillors voted to accept the draft report, which will now go out for public consultation for twelve weeks.


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