Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

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Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Operational area
Agency overview
Chief Fire OfficerMark Hewitt (temp)
Facilities and equipment
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service covering Cornwall, England. The service employs 428 retained firefighters, 201 full-time firefighters, plus over 120 support and administrative staff.[1] Created under the Fire Services Act 1947 as "Cornwall Fire Brigade", the name changed to "Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service" on 1 October 2009,[2] leaving London and Cleveland as the only two UK fire services to use the name "Fire Brigade".

The service is administered by Cornwall Council, With a new service headquarters (SHQ) at Tolvaddon opened in 2015

As part of the FiReControl project, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Services' control room was planned to switch over to the regional control centre in Taunton, Somerset. Originally scheduled to take place in July 2010, the cutover date was revised to January 2012,[3] however the plan was scrapped in December 2010.[4]

Fire stations and appliances[edit]

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operates 31 fire stations,[5] of which two are wholetime crewed 24/7 with retained back-up; five are day-crewed (one fire engine and any special appliances based at the station crewed wholetime Monday to Sunday, 7 am to 7 pm, with retained back-up crewing the second fire engine and specials, with the station totally retained outside of these hours); and the remainder are crewed by retained firefighters, who live near to their fire station and can arrive there within five minutes of a call being received. Due to an influx in visitors during the summer months, Newquay is changed to a wholetime structure during the summer period. The breakdown of stations is as follows:

  • 2 wholetime/retained stations
  • 6 day-crewed stations/retained stations
  • 23 retained stations

Station Callsign Station Name Duty System Appliances
1.1 Penzance Day-Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 2x WRU, 1x ESU
1.2 St. Just Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x ICU
1.3 St. Ives Retained 2x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x C-RV
2.0 Tolvaddon Wholetime/Retained 1x WRL, 1x LRP, 1x RT, 1x LRU, 1x LRSU, 1x FESS
2.3 Perranporth Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
2.4 Hayle Retained 1x WRL
3.1 Falmouth Wholetime/Retained 2x WRL, 2x WRU, 1x FBt, 1x BASU, 1x SFTr
3.2 St. Keverne Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x C-RV
3.3 Mullion Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x C-RV
3.4 Helston Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x WrC, 1x C-RV
4.1 City of Truro Day-Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x LRP, 1x ALP
4.2 St. Mawes Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x C-RV
4.3 Mevagissey Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
5.1 Newquay Day Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x LRP, 1x ALP, 3x PM, pods: 1x HVP, 1x HVHL, 1x MDD, 1x FRU
5.2 St. Columb Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
5.3 Padstow Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
5.4 Wadebridge Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x WrC
6.1 St. Austell Day-Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 2x WRU, 1x BASU
6.2 St. Dennis Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x WSU
6.3 Fowey Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
6.4 Lostwithiel Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
6.5 Polruan Retained 1x WRT, 1x LPA, 1x C-RV
7.1 Bodmin Day-Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 1x RT, 1x LRU, 1x LRSU, 1x FIDU, 1x IRU
7.2 Delabole Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
7.3 Bude Retained 1x WRL, 1x LRP, 2x WRU
7.4 Launceston Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 1x ICU
8.1 Liskeard Day-Crewed/Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 1x WrC
8.2 Looe Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA, 1x LAV
8.3 Saltash Retained 1x WRL, 1x WRT, 1x ESU
8.4 Torpoint Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA
8.5 Callington Retained 1x WRL, 1x LPA

Fire Appliance Glossary/Callsigns[edit]

  • Water Rescue Ladder (WRL): P1/P2
  • Water Rescue Tender (WRT): P4/P5/P9
  • Light Pumping Appliance (Light 4x4 Pump) (LPA): M1
  • Light Rescue Pump (LRP): P3
  • Limited Access Vehicle (LAV): No Callsign
  • Water Carrier (WrC): W1
  • Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP): A1
  • Inshore Rescue Boat (IRBt): B1
  • Incident Command Unit (ICU): C1
  • Environmental Support Unit (ESU): H1
  • Incident Response Unit (IRU): H9
  • Rescue Tender (RT): R1
  • Water Rescue Unit (WRU): R2/R2A
  • Line Rescue Unit (LRU): R4
  • Line Rescue Support Vehicle (LRSV)
  • Breathing Apparatus Support Unit (BASU): S1
  • Welfare Support Unit (WSU): S4
  • Fire & Emergency Support Service (FESS): No Callsign
  • Fire Boat (FBt)
  • Ship Fire Flat Bed (SFTr): T1
  • Co-Responder Vehicle (C-RV): V1
  • Fire Investigation Dog Unit (FIDU)


  • Foam Response Unit (FRU)
  • High Volume Pump (HVP)
  • High Volume Hose Layer Box (HVHL)
  • Mass Decontamination Dis-robe Unit (MDD)

Co-responder stations[edit]

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service works in partnership with South Western Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical cover to area of Cornwall. These are areas that have been identified as having a greater need for ambulance cover. The aim of a co-responder team is to preserve life until the arrival of either a rapid response vehicle (RRV) or an ambulance.[6] Co-responder vehicles are equipped with oxygen and automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment.

The fire stations operating as co-responders are:

  • Helston
  • Mullion
  • St. Keverne
  • St. Mawes
  • Polruan
  • St. Ives

Workshop and stores[edit]

The service workshop and stores are located at the Tolvaddon SHQ. The workshop contains five bays consisting of one HGV ramp bay, and one car & van ramp bay. The set-up enables up to five vehicles to be in the workshop at any one time.

The workshop also houses the stores, including both clothing and equipment, and holds over 7,000 items including operational equipment like branches and radios, and clothing from tunics to dress uniforms. This is always updated to ensure any equipment or clothing needed is ready to be dispatched immediately to wherever it is needed.

The workshops also maintain all of the operational equipment, from repairing the lengths of hoses to the breathing apparatus (BA) sets; this is carried out by the specialist "hose shop" also located on-site.

Emergency repair is available 24/7 through an "on call" system where mechanics take turns to provide 24-hour service if an appliance or equipment becomes defective.

Fire appliances[edit]

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service uses a variety of front-line and specialist appliances:

Water Rescue Ladder (WRL)[edit]

Also referred to as the 'first-away' appliance, it is mobilised to all building fires and all rescues as the main appliance. It carries an array of equipment including crash rescue equipment (CRE), breathing apparatus, water rescue equipment and a thermal imaging camera.

Their major capabilities include pumping up to 2,000 litres (440 gallons) per minute between two locations. It has a water tank capacity of 1,800 litres (396 gallons). The appliance carries a 13.5 metre (44 ft) ladder, a short extension ladder and a roof ladder. Although a WrL can carry a crew of six, they usually have a crew of five.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as WrLs:

  • Mercedes Atego 1328F
  • Mercedes LK 1124AF
  • Volvo FL290

Water Rescue Tender (WRT)[edit]

Also referred to as the "second-away", these appliances are usually mobilised to small fires, and often as support to a Water Ladder. These appliances are broadly similar to the Water Ladders, but carry a different range of equipment, with ladders up to 10.5 metres (34 ft) and carry 1400L of water. They are not the primary responder to a road traffic collision, despite carrying hydraulic cutting equipment. Some second-away appliances have the advantage of being four-wheeled-drive, and sometimes they will be the first appliance to respond in harsh weathers such as snow or to incidents on cliffs, moorlands and beaches. A Water Tender, like its counterpart, is capable of carrying up to six firefighters, but usually have a crew of four.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as WrTs:

  • Mercedes LK 1124AF
  • Mercedes LK 1120AF
  • Mercedes Unimog U500
  • MAN TGL 12.250

Light Pumping Appliance (LPA)[edit]

The four-wheeled-drive chassis of LPAs provides substantial off-road capability. These appliances are requested, or mobilised with the main appliance, to incidents that may be difficult to reach - either due to narrow roads or difficult terrain. These vehicles have a light-weight pump mounted on the back which feeds either a hosereel or 75 mm hose. They can also be fed by a small on-board water tank or from a hydrant.

The LPAs have the capability to carry a crew of up to four. Some carry 2 sets of breathing apparatus; however they carry a limited amount of equipment due to their restricted size.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as LPAs:

  • Toyota Hi-Lux
  • Vauxhall Brava

Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP)[edit]

The Aerial Ladder Platforms feature a VEMA TFL 343 series platform with a maximum working height of 34 metres. They are operated by specially trained wholetime and retained firefighters at Newquay and Truro fire stations.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as ALPs:

  • M.A.N. TGS 26.360

Incident Command Unit (ICU)[edit]

Cornwall Fire and Rescue have 2 ICUs. They are mobilised to any incident attended by 4 pumps or over, or by request of the incident commander. At large or protracted incidents ICUs become the nerve centre liaising between fireground officers and firefighters, and control room staff. They carry specialist equipment that allows them to take control of all communications at the incident site. In the rear of the units are computers with links to chemical identification databases and aerial maps. The ICUs are also fitted with satellite systems and an external television screen which can show maps to senior officers viewing from outside.

The hi-tech vehicles are crewed by both fire officers and firefighters, and prove a vital meeting point for the fire service to liaise between the police, the ambulance service, environmental agencies, and the many other organisations that come into play at the variety of incidents attended by today’s fire and rescue service.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as ICUs:

  • Mercedes Sprinter 518

Rescue Tender (RT)[edit]

The county operates 2 Rescue Tenders. They are crewed by specially-trained wholetime and retained firefighters at Tolvaddon and Bodmin fire stations. They carry specialist cutting and spreading equipment, airbag lifting gear, and supporting and shoring tools.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as RTs:

  • Mercedes Atego 1329F

Line Rescue Unit (LRU)[edit]

The Line Rescue Units carry specialist rope rescue equipment as well as powerful winches, lighting sets and generators. They are crewed by specialist firefighters with substantial climbing and abseiling capabilities. They are mobilised to any report of a person or animal in distress at height or below ground (such as down a mine shaft). As with the county’s Rescue Tenders, heavy duty winches are mounted on the vehicles. One of the LRUs is based on a 4x4 chassis with a Hiab crane on the rear of the vehicle.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as LRUs:

  • Mercedes Atego 1329F
  • Mercedes LK 1124 (4x4)

Breathing Apparatus Support Unit (BASU)[edit]

The Breathing Apparatus Support Units provide equipment related to Breathing Apparatus (BA) needs at the incident ground. This includes extra cylinders as well as being able to clean and service the BA sets. They also act as BA main control at larger incidents. These units were previously called Operational Support Vehicles (OSVs) as they used to carry a range of equipment to deal with water rescues before the dedicated Water Rescue Units (WRUs) were established.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as BASUs:

  • Mercedes Sprinter (4x4)

Welfare Support Unit (WSU)[edit]

The Welfare Support Unit is a much needed resource concerned with firefighter welfare. It comprises a small kitchen area, with a fridge, hot water urn, microwave oven and hand-washing facilities. At the rear there is also 2 unisex toilets for use by operational personnel on the incident ground. This unit is generally mobilised to large or protracted incidents where crews are going to be in attendance for a long period of time. This allows for the firefighters and officers to have a short break, enjoy hot and cold refreshments, and see to their sanitary needs. This unit is based at St. Dennis fire station.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as WSU:

  • Mitsubishi Canter

Environmental support Unit (ESU)[edit]

The 2 Environmental Support Units (ESUs) carry specialist equipment to deal with hazardous material (HAZMAT) incidents such as spillages and asbestos-related fires. They carry extra gas tight suits, oil absorbent granules, dammit mats and over-drums for sealing leaking chemical drums. They are usually part of the predetermined attendance to all incidents involving chemicals or asbestos.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as ESUs:

  • Vauxhall Movano

Limited access vehicle (LAV)[edit]

The Limited Access Vehicle was adapted by the fire service‘s own workshops to carry a portable pump, ladder, some lengths of hose & branches, and 2 sets of BA. The LAV is designed to navigate around the very narrow streets of Polperro and is towed to the incident by an L4P.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service operate the following chassis as LAV:

  • Kawasaki Mule 4x4

Mutual assistance[edit]

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, gives fire services the power to assist other fire services or fire authorities in what is known as mutual assistance.[7]

The fire services that adjoin Cornwall are as follows:

Notable incidents[edit]

  • SS Torrey Canyon disaster, 18 March 1967 – This incident saw possibly the largest fire brigade attendance in UK history: 78 different brigades (with over 200 appliances, 147 of which responded from London Fire Brigade) and 38 different military units spread detergent and pumped out contaminated water. The clean-up lasted months and the brigades stayed on-site throughout working 24/7. Cornwall Fire Brigade set up a workshop near the Lizard to maintain the appliances on-site whilst refilling them and portable pumps with petrol. At the height of the operation over 1,600 personnel were on scene.
  • Boscastle flooding, 16 August 2004 – The first call came into Fire Control in Truro at 16:00 to report a person trapped in a car with the water rising. At 17:30 a major incident was declared and search and rescue helicopters from RNAS Culdrose along with other helicopters throughout the Southwest assisted the fire brigade and Coastguard in evacuating people. 25 appliances attended the scene along with a further 22 for relief purposes. Although the brigade could not do anything with regards to the pumping out of water they assisted searching for persons trapped in their cars and homes and helped bring them to safety via the RNAS search and rescue helicopter. The brigade also carried out salvage work once the water had receded. The brigade were in attendance for a number of days with nearly the whole of the brigades pumping resources in attendance as either first response or as a relief crew.
  • Penhallow Hotel fire, 18 August 2007 – The first 999 call was received at 00:17; crews from Newquay were first on-scene and requested further appliances to attend. The fire consumed all three floors of the hotel and three people died at the scene. 25 pumps attended along with many support appliances; Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service also provided a turntable ladder, officers and USAR assistance. The cause of the fire is believed to be arson, but no one was ever charged. After the tragic incident questions were raised about the retained staffing levels at Newquay fire station and the brigade's lack of operational aerial ladder platforms.
  • A+P Falmouth Docks fire, 17 June 2011 – At around 8:00, a worker was changing over an acetylene cylinder when the tank began to vent and the gas ignited; this in turn ignited other venting tanks. On arrival of the fire brigade a 300 m[8] cordon was put in place which required the docks and many surrounding houses to be evacuated. The brigade extinguished the initial fire but then had to cool the cylinders constantly for 24-hours to prevent them from exploding due to the heat and build-up of pressure. In total Cornwall FRS sent six pumping appliances, one command support unit, one operational support unit and one welfare vehicle. The incident lasted for 24-hours and required numerous relief crews to attend overnight.

Other emergency services[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facts & Figures". Cornwall County Fire Brigade. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  2. ^ Cornwall Council - Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Homepage. (7 March 2009). Retrieved on 15 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Control room scrapping 'will help Devon and Somerset". BBC News. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  5. ^ "Structure". Cornwall County Fire Brigade. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  6. ^ SWAST Fire Co Responders Archived 15 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004". OPSI. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  8. ^ BBC News Falmouth Dock Fire. (17 June 2011). Retrieved on 15 September 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Books by Arthur Ivan Rabey:
    • 1981: Cornwall's Fire Brigades. St. Columb: I. Rabey
    • 1998: Cornwall County Fire Brigade 1948 - 1998: the first 50 years. St. Columb: I. Rabey
    • 2003: The Centenary of St. Columb Fire Brigade, 1903-2003. St Columb: [the Author]

External links[edit]