fire chief speaks out following criticism
fire chief has this week made a robust defence of the fire service
in our area.
Fire Station Watch Commander Dick Solomon, pictured, spoke to
Burnham-On-Sea.com following last weekend's rescues of a goat
and a horse, which prompted negative feedback.
Solomon, a fire officer of 36 years, defended Burnham fire service's
attendance at a goat
rescue in Brean last Sunday.
were called out by the police after they'd received a call from
Secret World reporting the animal stuck and injured 20-30 metres
up a rock face. Two appliances from Burnham were sent, along with
a team from Bridgwater and a Land Rover in order to comply with
the Health and Safety Act 1974. When a firefighter was lowered
down the cliff face, it was found the goat was unharmed and it
made its own way up the rocks. I agree that goats are better at
negotiating rocks than humans, but until we got to its location
we didn't know whether it was injured or not. We saw this as a
good training exercise for practising a human rescue."
Solomon went on to discuss the rescue of a horse from a slurry
pit, which was reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com here.
had an appliance on standby in Bridgwater last Saturday night
and we sent a crew of six to this incident, alongside a crew of
three from Taunton and five from Bridgwater, none of whom were
standing around watching."
horse was trapped up to its neck in eight feet of slurry and this
was a very dangerous situation. All incidents have to be carried
out in accordance with strict health and safety regulations -
a slurry pit is an extremely dangerous object. The animal was
eventually pulled free using specialist equipment and we returned
to Burnham at around 2.50am."
to a point on the town's discussion forums regarding the firefighters
"having time on their hands", Mr Solomon said: "At
Burnham we are all retained firemen and have busy lives away from
the station. We give up holiday time to do our jobs and the team
members who are self-employed sometimes give up work to tackle
incidents. We do this to give something back to the community
and often deal with stressful incidents that can never be taken
Solomon went on to discuss a point made on the forums regarding
the large number of fire crews who "swarm like bees in a
honey pot" around incidents.
said: "Firefighters only attend incidents after being called
out by the public or other emergency services via our call centre.
It must be noted that the full details of an incient are rarely
clear when the call comes to us, so it's often difficult to estimate
how many firefighters are needed. It's always better to have a
full compliment of firemen rather than too few and risk lives."
to feedback about why roofs are frequently cut off vehicles at
incidents, Mr Solomon said: "I cannot think of any occasion
when a roof has been cut off a car without good reason. We're
led by the ambulance crews and paramedics regarding the condition
of the occupants inside. Any collision of vehicles over 26mph
has to be treated as a potentially serious spinal injury and extreme
care has to be taken with the occupants."
Solomon went on to discuss how the fire service is funded. "All
council tax payers do pay for fire services. We attend a wide
range of incidents on behalf of the public, such as road accidents,
explosions, accidents, chemical leaks, humanitarian rescues, animal
rescues, fuel leaks, flooding, trench rescues. There are many,
many types of incident which our trained crews are bound to attend
under the 2004 Fire Service Act on your behalf. We will always
try to help anyone."
also do pro-active work in the community with fire safety checks,
where smoke detectors can be fitted free of charge."
went on to address a point on the forums regarding "firefighters
sitting around drinking tea".
Solomon said: "All firefighters are entitled to meal breaks
and refreshments, but the rest of our time when not dealing with
call-outs is spent maintaining equipment, which has to be kept
to a very high standard and comply with stringent health and safety
said the idea that firefighters are "idle spectators"
at incidents is incorrect. "No-one is an idle spectator -
sometimes they are needed to assist other firefighters at the
scene, but every firefighter has an important role to do at an
concluded: "I would like to add that we are only too happy
to meet and discuss the fire service here in Burnham with local
residents. The fire service is an emergency service provided for
the public and paid for by council tax contributions, along with
any government grant funding which may be provided to cover major
have been in the fire service for over 36 years and throughout
this time have worked with professional firefighters who have
put their lives on the line to save people from danger."
anyone wants more information, they are welcome to visit us any
Wednesday evening between 7 and 9pm or email me directly here."
firefighters attended 336 incidents in the area last year.