A fire unit specializing in water rescue could move to Yarmouth

06:45 5 October 2022

A specialist rescue unit could be moved from Thetford to Great Yarmouth, to help deal with the large number of animals that remain stranded after falling into ditches near Acle Strait.

Fire bosses say the Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) should be moved from the southwest of the county to the seaside, due to the frequency of trapped animals near the A47, as well as the increased risk of floods on the coast.

The Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has three TRUs, which include special equipment for water rescue and animal rescue, based in Thetford, Carrow near Norwich and King’s Lynn South.

But Thetford’s is barely used, while fire chiefs say Carrow’s unit is regularly called out to Yarmouth.

Deputy Fire Chief Scott Norman
– Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Scott Norman, Deputy Fire Chief, said: “We recognized that with the risk of coastal flooding and flooding in Great Yarmouth, we believe the best use of the unit would be in the Yarmouth area.

“We know this is a low area and it makes more sense for the Yarmouth teams to respond to these incidents.

“The unit also has animal rescue equipment and most of the animal rescues we do are around Acle Strait, with cattle and horses stuck in the ditches.

“Rather than sending devices from Norwich to these incidents, it would be better served by teams from Great Yarmouth.”

Traffic on the A47 Acle Straight near Great Yarmouth.  Photo: DENISE BRADLEY

Acle’s straight line. Firefighters often have to rescue animals that fall into ditches along the road
– Credit: Denise Bradley

The proposal forms part of the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Community Risk Management Plan for 2023/26, which is due for consultation at the end of the month.

As previously reported, Norfolk Fire Chiefs have said they will consider the future of Gorleston Fire Station once the third Great Yarmouth River crossing is in use.

The £121million bridge is due to open next year – and the improved access it will create means Gorleston Fire Station may no longer be needed.

Although there are no firm plans at this stage, Mr Norman said it “would be wrong” not to explore options for the station’s future.

Ceri Sumner, director of Norfolk Fire and Rescue, said it would be “negligent” to ignore the impact the new bridge could have on response times.