Shortly after 9am yesterday morning (Saturday 20th February) we received a call to a well-developed house fire at Ffordd Meigan in Beaumaris. Initial information from the scene suggested that there may have been people inside the property, but this was later confirmed as not being the case with all persons being accounted for.
Full crews from Menai Bridge and Beaumaris were not available when the call to this incident was received. Both of these fire stations are staffed by ‘on-call’ firefighters. These firefighters are called in from home or work in the event of an incident.
Current low staffing levels resulting from difficulties in recruitment, staff leaving the Service and staff who are not available due to primary employment commitments, all combine to present significant challenges in the provision of a full time emergency response in this area.
A combined crew from Menai Bridge and Beaumaris attended the incident and they were supported by two crews from Bangor and an aerial ladder platform from Rhyl.
A joint fire investigation is underway between North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Police, but two adults have already been arrested by North Wales Police in connection with this incident.
Stuart Millington, Assistant Chief Fire Officer said: “I would like to commend the quick thinking of our control room staff who alerted crews in both Menai Bridge and Beaumaris and who were then able to combine crews from both locations and attend the incident to begin firefighting as quickly as possible. I would also like to commend firefighters who attended the incident and worked hard to bring the fire under control and prevent damage to neighbouring properties.
“Of course our preference would always be to have crews available in each of our fire stations, but this is becoming increasingly difficult in less well populated parts of North Wales.”
Charles Brimecombe, Watch Manager from Beaumaris said: “The demographic in Beaumaris has changed in recent years. Many properties have been purchased as summer homes or to be used as holiday lets during the summer months. The result of this is that the properties that would have previously accommodated potential firefighter recruits are now empty for much of the year, or are occupied by holiday makers. In addition, limited employment opportunities in Beaumaris has led to it becoming increasingly difficult to recruit ‘on-call’ firefighters.
“That said, a recruitment campaign in the early part of 2020 led to a small number of potential recruits for the station, but the COVID pandemic has made it difficult to progress these recruits through all of the necessary tests. Dates have already been identified in 2021 to progress those whose recruitment has been delayed by the pandemic. I know that there is another campaign planned to coincide with National On-Call week in March and both Menai Bridge and Beaumaris are included as priority stations for recruitment.”
Gwyn Williams, Watch Manager from Menai Bridge said: “Having crews available during the day is increasingly difficult. The days when primary employers would let personnel leave work and attend calls are over. There has been Service recruitment activity for Menai Bridge and we have 12 people interested in joining the team. However, Covid-19 and the disruption to the availability of training has restricted our ability to maintain crewing levels.
“This has meant that these potential firefighters are not currently available to us. In addition colleagues from the station have recently retired from the Service which leaves us with limited personnel to crew the appliance. I am dedicated to keeping Menai Bridge available to the community and am hopeful that the people interested in joining our team will be available once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and the required training courses can fully resume.”
If you would like to find out more about being an ‘on-call’ firefighter then please visit our website at www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk
We are currently actively recruiting at Aberdyfi, Abersoch, Amlwch, Bala, Beaumaris, Benllech, Betws y Coed, Cerrigydrudion, Corwen, Harlech, Llangefni, Llanrwst, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog, St Asaph and Tywyn.