Search launched to find on-call firefighters in Glynneath, Seven Sisters and Cymmer
A RECRUITMENT drive has been launched to find on-call firefighters to provide vital cover in Neath and Port Talbot's three main valleys.
There is a national shortage of retained firefighters to provide daytime cover in particular.
Concerns have been raised in Glynneath, where a crew from Hirwaun had to deal with a bungalow blaze because there were too few firefighters available in the town's own station.
Now Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is looking for people aged 18 and over who could train to become retained firefighters at the Glynneath, Seven Sisters and Cymmer stations.
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They have to live or work in those communities during weekdays and be able to get to the relevant station within 10 minutes. Neath Port Talbot county commander Chris Margetts, who attended a Glynneath Town Council meeting to hear the concerns first hand, said the shortage was a national rather than local problem.
"A lot of our retained firefighters go on to become full-time firefighters, or find employment elsewhere," he said. There is always a regular turnover of staff who provide daytime cover.
"Neath Port Talbot's valleys have a transient population. They don't have the big employers they used to have.
"What happens is that retained firefighters, who may have been there for years, often work outside the area they live in.
"They are available to provide cover during the evenings and weekends. The problem is during the daytime."
Retained firefighters are fully trained and are paid a salary, including additional payments for attending emergencies, training events and community safety activities.
Mr Margetts added: "The role of an on-call firefighter is certainly demanding, but extremely rewarding and makes a real difference to the community in which they live and work.
"Our firefighters respond to all types of emergency situations from fires, car crashes, and rescues to flooding and industrial accidents, therefore it is essential that the personnel we employ genuinely want to help people who are in a crisis."