Kent Fire and Rescue Service job ad 'shows shortage'
Kent's biggest recruitment campaign for on-call firefighters has led to union claims the county is short of cover and the service is "creaking".
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has begun its "largest ever" recruitment campaign for on-call firefighters with staff needed at 27 stations.
KFRS said the campaign was to replace staff who had left and top up numbers.
But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the scale of the campaign did not point to a top-up but a wholesale need.
KFRS has 561 on-call firefighters but has not set out to recruit a specific number.'Bolstering numbers'
It said staff were needed at different times at different stations and the service required enough people to match those hours.
James Parrott, from the FBU in the South East said: "The biggest problem is that if you've got shortages of firefighters at a station, then you could have firefighters turning out with insufficient crews, and you have other firefighters having to respond to those calls, which will mean severe delays in attending emergencies."
End Quote Steve Griffiths KFRS
I don't think there is anything around crisis here at all”
He also said it took time to train a firefighter and it would be three years before the service reaped the benefits of staff being trained now.
Steve Griffiths, director of service delivery at KFRS, said: "We regularly lose firefighters through the year so we're looking to bolster numbers through recruitment."
He said staff were needed in varying numbers from station to station.
He said: "I don't think there is anything around crisis here at all.
"We are still meeting our attendance times. We get to 80% of fires in 10 minutes. That is still the case at the moment. We have staff available to crew fire engines, but we would like more."
A spokesman from the Department for Communities and Local Government said fire incidents were down by 46% on 10 years ago across the UK, and fires had fallen by 63%.
But he said retained firefighters provided flexibility for the fire service, and the government wanted more done to promote the retained duty system in communities.