Fire stations across south Bucks are facing a recruitment crisis, as it was revealed that all fire stations in the south of the county are in need of more on-call firefighters – with one village station not having enough staff to run a full size engine.

Eighteen stations across Bucks have on-call firefighters – paid staff who do the same job as full-time firefighters, but are not based in a station and are instead on standby waiting to be called out - with eight of them also crewed by full-time firefighters.

In south Bucks, there are five stand-alone on call stations without full-time firefighters; Marlow, Stokenchurch, Great Missenden, Princes Risborough and Chesham.

Tom Brandon, station commander of Stokenchurch and four other nearby stations, said firefighters can be called out over a hundred times a year to genuine emergencies, many where ‘lives are at stake’.

He said: “All of the stations in South Bucks are in need of more firefighters – ideally we would have around 12 or 14 firefighters per station but some are as low as four.

“We have been particularly focusing on recruitment in Stokenchurch and have been forging links with the Parish Council to raise awareness in the community of the invaluable service that is provided by on-call firefighters in the village.”

The urgent plea for more firefighters comes after Bucks Fire and Rescue was forced to deploy a smaller vehicle to respond to emergency incidents at Stokenchurch fire station because there are not enough firefighters to run a full size fire engine.

Despite a six month recruitment campaign to find more on-call firefighters for the village to keep the engine running, which saw leaflets delivered to 90 per cent of properties in the area, the numbers of volunteers has continued to decline.

Group commander Roger Brinklow said: “Over recent months, Stokenchurch Fire Station has seen its numbers decrease to such an extent that there are no longer enough people to take out a large fire engine.

“Numbers have decreased recently mainly due to individuals being unable to provide the time required for training and making themselves available for emergency calls.

“Unfortunately our recruitment campaign has had limited results, with few volunteers coming forward. There are still a number of dedicated staff at Stokenchurch who are keen to provide the emergency cover, but there have to be at least four people available to operate a normal fire engine.

“The intention is to return the main fire engine back to Stokenchurch as soon as there are adequate numbers to crew it.”

Richard Boast, watch manager at Marlow fire station which has 11 on-call firefighters, says the lack of people must be ‘worrying and frustrating’ for Stokenchurch fire station.

He said: “We’re very lucky at Marlow that we have local businesses that employ local people and allow them to be a part of the fire service. Marks and Spencer’s and Rebellion have employees who also work with us.

“Over the years we have had Marlow go down to eight people which was very difficult. Unfortunately not many people work locally any more, which is a sign of the times.

“It is very unfortunate and worrying to see any station that has been there for years unable to recruit staff. It must be very frustrating.”

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