A major recruitment drive has been launched to tackle a chronic shortage of retained firefighters in West Norfolk.

Retained crews play a vital role in keeping the county safe, manning around 85 per cent of front-line fire appliances and responding to the same emergencies as full-time firefighters.

With around half of Norfolk’s vacancies in this area, there is a desperate need for more part-time help at a number of stations, including King’s Lynn, Downham Market and Hunstanton.

New recruits able to provide day-time cover are in particular demand and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is also keen to encourage more women to join the ranks.

Rob Curtis, watch manager in charge of retained crews for the Lynn area, said Norfolk had 55 retained vacancies and 27 of those were in the west.

“We struggle to recruit women across West Norfolk, so if anyone is interested we would like to hear from them,” said Mr Curtis.

Recent retirements and employers increasingly struggling to spare staff during the day had contributed to the fall in retained help, he said.

Stations with vacancies include Heacham, West Walton, Outwell, Terrington St Clement, Sandringham and Massingham.

The fire service has just launched a new section on its website making it easier for potential recruits to register an interest and find out more.

Mr Curtis said it was hoped this would spark more interest.

New retained recruit Declan O’Connor, of King’s Lynn, said he couldn’t wait to get to grips with his training.

The 19-year-old has passed the required physical and written tests and is due to start his induction training next week.

A former uniformed services student at Lynn’s College of West Anglia, Mr O’Connor works eight hours a week at the town’s River Island store and he said his employers had been very flexible.

“I am really excited about starting,” said Mr O’Connor whose eventual aim is to become a full-time crew member.

The minimum age for retained recruits is 18 and retained firefighters must live or work within five minutes of their station.

Mr Curtis said as well as the financial rewards, being a retained firefighter was a way of giving something back to the community.

“We attend a variety of incidents, not just building fires and car crashes. We get called to chemical leaks, get involved with environmental protection, flooding and all rescues from a pigeon caught in netting to a dog stuck behind a radiator,” he said.

A retained Lynn crew will be at The Walks on Sunday for the EACH Colour Dash race if anyone wants to talk to firefighters in person.

The service’s new website for recruitment information can be found at: www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk/nfrs/becoming-a-retained-firefighter

See https://www.yourlocalpaper.co.uk/news/gallery-come-join-us/ for pictures of a special awareness night at the North Lynn station.