8:00am Friday 27th September 2013
ALMOST one-third of firefighters in Devon and Somerset are not meeting fitness standards, according to a study.
However, officials from the service say the figures are skewed by their high number of part-time staff who can struggle to keep fit.
The statistics, uncovered as part of a BBC Five Live investigation, showed about 30% of firefighters failed to reach a recommended fitness standard in the past year.
The service has 1,200 retained firefighters and 800 full-time at its 85 fire stations in both counties. The 46 firefighters at stations in Bampton, Tiverton, Crediton and Cullompton are all retained.
Trevor French, of the Fire Brigades’ Union, said the fitness were down to the service being "the largest employer of retained or on-call firefighters" in the country.
He said: "Unlike wholetime personnel, they don't get time to train or maintain fitness.”
In a statement, Devon & Somerset Fire Service said: “We recognise the operational work of a firefighter can be strenuous and on occasions arduous.
“Therefore the fitness standard used on recruitment reflects the national firefighter selection test, which is a battery of tests to simulate firefighter tasks.
“We normally assess operational staff every three years in conjunction with medical examinations. However for staff who do not meet the fitness standard, we will make every effort to ensure staff are engaged with a fitness improvement programme.
“The fitness procedures and performance were reviewed in 2012 and we have improved our support through qualified advisors who undertake these assessments and a rigorous fitness programme which provides support to everyone in an effort to maintain the required level of fitness.”
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