Union chief says fire crews in Essex are ‘struggling’ with the recent ‘spike’ in activity due to cuts

PUBLISHED: 15:51 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:01 26 July 2018

The lorry fire on the M11 last week. Picture: COLIN SHEAD/ESSEX POLICE

The lorry fire on the M11 last week. Picture: COLIN SHEAD/ESSEX POLICE


The eastern regional secretary for the Fire Brigade Union said crews are struggling with the recent “spike” in activity during the hot weather and added that cuts to the service meant firefighters are taking longer to reach incidents.

It comes as high temperatures have caused traffic chaos across Uttlesford in the last week after a series of vehicle fires on M11 near Saffron Walden.

Last Thursday, a lorry carrying 40 tonnes of hay burst into flames on the motorway, shutting the road between junction 8 and junction 10 for more than 12 hours.

Fire crews were called around 5pm and prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby fields.

The fire was put out by 3.30am on Friday morning and motorists faced a 30-mile diversion while emergency resurfacing works were carried out.

On Tuesday, a double-decker bus caught fire on the same stretch of the M11, causing more long delays for motorists.

Crews were called at about 1pm and found a coach was ablaze on the hard shoulder of the northbound carriageway.

The fire had spread to a nearby grass embankment. The road was closed while firefighters extinguished the fire.

In July so far, the highest temperature recorded in Saffron Walden was 34C and the area received just 5cm of rainfall.

Riccardo la Torre, eastern regional secretary for the Fire Brigade Union, said there has been a “spike” in activity during the hot weather and added that cuts to the service meant crews are taking longer to reach incidents.

“Across the east we’re struggling with this spike in activity - it’s frightening,” he said.

“It’s not unexpected to see a spike in summer, but we’ve lost 1,000 firefighters across the region since 2010, so it’s getting worse.

“It extends the time we take to get there and the later we get to a fire the more developed it is.

“It’s taking us longer to get to fires even during quieter times - so now it’s even worse. We don’t have the resources we used to. Crews from Essex are being called out to Suffolk, leaving Essex with less resources if there’s a big incident.

“The longer we take to get to a fire, the more damage there is to life and property.”

No one was hurt in the fires.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dunmow Broadcast visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dunmow Broadcast staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dunmow Broadcast account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Yesterday, 08:45

Congregation members at Stansted Mountfitchet’s packed memorial service in St John’s Church stood amongst silhouettes of Tommys.

Yesterday, 09:38

English Heritage’s sell-out event, Enchanted Audley End, is returning to the gardens of the historic property near Saffron Walden this December.

Yesterday, 08:48

Four years ago, pupils at Rodings Primary School made a poppy to mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, and this month they were at it again.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

A burglary was committed at a Co-op in Great Bardfield early this morning (November 17).

Digital Edition

Read the Dunmow Broadcast e-edition E-edition

Most read stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Dunmow Broadcast weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy