TRAINING for on-call firefighters is starting in September now social distancing measures are easing, it has been announced.

Dovercourt Fire Station became an on-call only station on April 1, meaning firefighters respond from home during evenings and weekends.

The move came after the station recruited 15 on-call firefighters, who will be supporting three existing full-time colleagues in management roles, and two further staff members will provide engine driver support.

The full-time firefighters will remain at the station to support the final part of the transition until the end of this month, when they will be redeployed elsewhere in Essex.

To update the public on the situation, an online meeting was held last Wednesday about Tendring's police and fire service with Roger Hirst, Essex's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Accompanying Mr Hirst for the online meeting was senior firefighter Simon Dedman who was asked about recruitment of on-call firefighters at Dovercourt Fire Station.

Mr Dedman said it is now looking quite promising.

He added: "There has been a significant impact on our ability to train due to Covid-19 restrictions and the necessary social distancing.

"But we do now have our first on-call squad starting in September and we have another starting in December or January.

"Both of those squads are currently full and we have five people in the recruitment process for Dovercourt.

"The simple fact is it is looking positive for people wanting to join."

Between March and June both fire engines for Dovercourt ran at more than a 90 per cent availability rate, Mr Dedman said.

He said the rescue pump was available about 99 per cent of the time during the height of the pandemic.

"We are in a transition period where we are supporting the on-call staff at the station," Mr Dedham added.

Mr Hirst said he does recognise the challenges with having an on-call only station.

"Now we have moved to the transitional arrangements, and have the cover we need to have the recruitment is going well," he said.

Before Dovercourt Fire Station became an on-call station it had nine firefighters, split between two watches, who alternated between providing cover from the station during the day and from home at night.

Both of these watches were each supported by a firefighter who provided solely day cover.

About 75 per cent of fire stations in Essex are crewed by on-call firefighters consisting of people who live or work within five minutes of the fire station.