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Swansea has six fire engines while Rhondda Cynon Taf has 13

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 06, 2012

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FIREFIGHTERS faced with a shortage of part-time officers to support them are also having to do the job with fewer vehicles than a neighbouring region with a smaller population, it has been claimed.

Last week, fire chiefs with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MWWFRS) admitted they faced crewing "challenges", particularly in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, after serving officers claimed up to 21 appliances were not fully manned, and might not be for the immediate future.

To meet the shortage, community and business fire safety officers, whose job it is to advise and educate about fire prevention, have been drafted in to some stations to cover shortfalls — leading to the Fire Brigades Union issuing a safety critical notice to MWWFRS, because it claimed some of those officers were not fully compliant with health and safety guidelines — although service managers have insisted they are all "fully competent operational firefighters".

The FBU has declined to comment, because it is in negotiations with MWWFRS management over a review into cuts that management want to make to full-time frontline firefighters.

But the FBU has produced a document, which it has sourced from Welsh Assembly figures, which suggests the number of fire appliances in Swansea is half that of Rhondda Cynon Taf — despite the city and county having a greater population.

The document was provided to the Evening Post by Clydach Councillor Gordon Walker, a former firefighter of more than 30 years' experience.

He said: "It is absurd that Swansea is getting far fewer than Rhondda Cynon Taff."

According to the document, there are six fire engines to cover Swansea's 239,000 population, with three other supporting vehicles. Rhondda Cynon Taf, population 231,000, has 13 fire engines, and nine other supporting vehicles.

Carmarthenshire (population: 183,000) has 13 fire engines and five supporting vehicles. Neath Port Talbot (population: 139,800) has seven fire engines and two supporting vehicles.

But Deputy Chief Fire Officer Paul Bates said: "While the two areas have similar population, the areas are very different in risk terms. For example, Swansea covers 378km squared and Rhondda Cynon Taf 424km squared. Different demographics, different infrastructure and different risk require different methods."

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  • carmshire  |  November 21 2012, 2:44PM

    The Fire Service is vastly overfunded and overstaffed. If resources were based on demand, apart from Swansea, Llanelli and maybe Carmarthen, all other stations would be staffed by retained. For too long the Fire service staff have been living a life of luxury with their meals cooked for them and beds to sleep on nights. Compared to the other Emergency services their work load is a joke but their union is VERY good !

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  • FrankDoberman  |  November 16 2012, 10:02PM

    Well you're wrong. I said I would apologise for the gibe if Mr Walker does indeed have a medal for bravery and if what you say is true then I do. You also have no idea as to the sort of person I am and a reference to my operational experience is immaterial. I don't work in the fire brigade. You must admit that the Velux Cross was funny though.

  • The_truth  |  November 16 2012, 8:05PM

    Well said Phoenix please! I am quite sure FrankDoberman and Blodwyn will go very quiet on this now!! And given the type of people they are and the operational experience they have can only dream of having the same respect Mr Walker has amongst his peers!! As for awards they may get a wikkle mention from their masters at the celebrating success awards for the bumlicks!! Perhaps even a little gong! Now that's recognition lads!!!

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  • PhoenixPlease  |  November 16 2012, 5:53PM

    FrankDoberman and Blodwyn, you have had your cheap pathetic shots. Irrespective of your attitude, a little digging shows that Mr Walker, has recieved a gallantry medal. The Royal Humane Society Medal, the medal awarded by the Patron HM, Queen is 'awarded to people who have put their own lives at great risk to save or attempt to save someone else.' Though I respect Firemen, looking at records they do not seem to recieve many gallantry medals. The fact is whatever you think of Mr Walker, he is on record a brave man who has been officially recognised.

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  • phantom  |  November 15 2012, 1:25PM

    Can you check what it was for then frank? I don't work for the fire service and I don't know councillor walker. I just have a friend who lives in pontardawe where he is from!

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  • FrankDoberman  |  November 15 2012, 11:22AM

    Phantom That's a no then? BTW I am not bad mouthing anybody. If Gordon Walker has a medal for bravery I will apologise for my earlier comment about the Velux Cross (witty though it was) and accept as FACT that he has a medal for bravery. Which one is it? I can then check the citation with the London Gazette.

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  • phantom  |  November 14 2012, 11:48PM

    Sorry, it was actually the George Cross, Queens gallantry medal, Pillar of the Community, Golden Globe and Nobel Peace Prize............Hang on, is that the police outside??? Bravery award is a Bravery award - FACT. I don't think that anything can be achieved by bad mouthing Councillor Walker and it certainly does not strengthen any of your arguments.

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  • phantom  |  November 14 2012, 10:54PM

    You obviously know frank? Please enlighten us?

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  • FrankDoberman  |  November 14 2012, 10:20PM

    Ok phantom. What medal was it? It is an offence to falsley claim honours and awards so be careful what you post. You wouldn't want to get it wrong would you

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  • phantom  |  November 14 2012, 10:17PM

    I've just been told that it was for saving someone's life! Shame on you blodwyn! I wonder if you would be making these comments if it was someone that was someone close to you?

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