Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

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Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.png
Operational area
Agency overview
Established1 April 2007
Chief Fire OfficerLee Howell
Facilities and equipment
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) is the statutory fire and rescue service covering the county of Devon (including the unitary authorities of Plymouth and Torbay) and the non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England – an area of 3,924 square miles (10,160 km2).[1] The service does not cover the unitary authorities of North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, which are covered by the Avon Fire and Rescue Service. It serves a population of 1.75 million,[1] and is the fifth largest fire and rescue service in the United Kingdom.[2]

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service was founded on 1 April 2007, following the merger of Devon Fire and Rescue Service with Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.[2] The Somerset service, previously known as Somerset Fire Brigade, was formed on 1 April 1948. Devon Fire Brigade was formed in 1973, by the amalgamation of Exeter City Brigade, Plymouth City Brigade and Devon County Brigade. It became Devon Fire and Rescue Service in 1987.

The main headquarters is located at Clyst St George near Exeter. Its main training centre is the Service Training Centre (STC) at Plympton fire station. It employs approximately 1,850 staff, including 578 wholetime firefighters and 36 control room staff, 930 retained firefighters and 300 non-uniformed staff.

Each county operated its own control room until 2012, but they now have a single control room at the main headquarters.

Fire stations[edit]

Greenbank Fire Station, Plymouth
Torquay Fire Station
Taunton Fire Station
Glastonbury Fire Station
Kingston Fire Station

The fire service operates 83 fire stations and 121 fire engines, the second largest number of fire stations in the country.[1] The fire stations organised across six geographical groups – Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil.[3] The fire stations are crewed on a mix of wholetime, wholetime and retained, and retained duty systems.[4]

Nineteen DSFRS fire stations are home to fire service co-responders. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service works in partnership with South Western Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical cover to areas of Devon and Somerset. 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. Co-responder vehicles are equipped with oxygen and automatic external defibrillation (AED) equipment.[5] Co-responder stations have a dedicated vehicle for co-responder calls. The vehicle, known as the emergency response unit (EMS), attends in place of the fire appliance (providing there are enough crew members still on duty), allowing the fire appliance to remain available.

Station grounds[edit]

HMNB Devonport[edit]

HMNB Devonport Dockyard, in Plymouth, is home to twenty one of the Royal Navy's fleet of ships and submarines.

The dockyard falls into the station ground of 48 Camels Head, and is backed up by 49 Crownhill. Each part of the dockyard is divided into risk areas; this then reflects in the level of attendance by the Fire Service.

Some parts of the dockyard are considered a very high risk and therefore attract a high attendance, sometimes as many as four pumping appliances and the aerial ladder platform are mobilised to a fire alarm actuating, in contrast to one pumping appliance to a town dwelling.

Hinkley Point[edit]

Hinkley Point is a headland on the coast of Somerset. It is the location of two nuclear power stations (Hinkley Point A, which closed in 2000, and Hinkley Point B). Hinkley Point B is the only active site. Hinkley Point has its own fire station, backed up by 67 Nether Stowey and would then be backed up by 62 Bridgwater. There is a planned new nuclear power station that will be Hinkley Point C.

Fire appliances[edit]

Devon and Somerset use a variety of front-line and special appliances. Operating from 83 fire stations, it has 121 fire engines and 64 special appliances, including aerial appliances, water/foam carriers, incident command units, 4x4s and environmental protection units.[6]

Water tender ladder
Water tender
Incident command vehicle
Aerial ladder platform at work
Incident response unit

The fireboat Vigiles is located in Plymouth and is used to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard, the oil storage facilities and the commercial shipping that uses the port. Its high speed also enables it to carry out a rescue role if required.

Due to the rural nature of Devon and Somerset, a number of vehicles are used that are capable of reaching incidents that occur on the commons, moors and heathlands of the region. These all carry specialised firefighting equipment designed for the purpose.

Cheddar and Dulverton each operate a Pinzgauer, a specially-built 6x6 vehicle. They are strategically located to tackle tough terrains in their respective locations.

The JCB Groundhogs at Porlock and Nether Stowey are high-mobility firefighting appliances. They are transported on trailers to incidents that are difficult to access and operate usually in conjunction with the Pinzgauers and other off-road vehicles.

The service operates three incident response units (IRUs). They are positioned at Wellington, Okehampton fire station and Bovey Tracey fire station. Note, the IRU based at Wellington is not housed at the fire station, but at Chelston Business Park near Wellington. They are supplied by the Department for Communities and Local Government, to respond to incidents involving mass decontamination, defined as incidents where more than one person can be decontaminated simultaneously using the same equipment. Each IRU is maintained by a host station with assistance from support stations which all receive training on the equipment at regular periods throughout the year.

The service has an urban search and rescue team (USAR), one of 21 teams strategically located across England and Wales. They are equipped with five modules carrying various equipment to deal with a large range of incidents including structural collapse, large transport incidents, open area searches, heavy lifting operations and shoring. The Urban Search and Rescue is station 60 and based at the Service's main headquarters in Exeter.

British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service[edit]

The British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) helps to meet the needs of individuals who have suffered damage to their homes following a domestic property fire, flood or similar emergency. Two units operating in Devon and Somerset based at the based Plymouth Red Cross Centre and Bridgwater Fire Station[7] are dedicated volunteers. Their role includes providing refreshments, clothing, toiletries, use of an onboard telephone, first aid, sign-posting to other organisations, support with the care of children and pets, assistance in securing temporary accommodation, transport to friends/family, and use of shower/washing and toilet facilities.


At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, DSFRS firefighters were trained to drive ambulances for South Western Ambulance Service as a relief measure should any ambulance staff fall sick to COVID-19.[8] As of June 2020, they had attended 1,700 incidents.

As part of the national FiReControl project, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue's control rooms were due to switch over to a regional control centre in Taunton. Both control rooms were planned to cutover in May 2011,[9] but the plan was formally scrapped in December 2010 by the Government.[10]


In 2018/2019, every fire and rescue service in England and Wales was subjected to a statutory inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HIMCFRS). The inspection investigated how well the service performs in each of three areas. On a scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate, Devon and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service was rated as follows:[11]

HMICFRS Inspection Devon and Cornwall 2018/19
Area Rating Description
Effectiveness Good How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Efficiency Requires Improvement How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
People Requires Improvement How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

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.[12]

The fire services that adjoin the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are:

Children and young people[edit]

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has a number of schemes for young people.[13]

Fire Cadets is a programme open to young people between the ages of 12 to 16. Every week up to 14 Cadets attend their local fire station for two hours to take part in firefighter activities such as hose running, ladder climbs (SHACS), and search and rescue. The programme is currently only running from limited stations within Devon and Somerset. These are Exmouth, Frome, Ilfracombe, Plymouth, Tiverton and Wincanton.

Firebreak is a personal development scheme for Key Stage 4 pupils (ages 14–16). It provides a novel fire and rescue service themed educational diet designed to complement and enhance the school curriculum.

The Firesetter Intervention programme is designed to address firesetting behaviour amongst children and young people up to the age of 19.

Phoenix is a six-month programme, primarily designed to reduce fire risk and fire related crime within local communities by working with 'at-risk' young people between the ages of 15 and 18.

See also[edit]

Other local emergency services[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service". HMICFRS. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Brigade 'based on local response'". BBC News. 26 March 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Your Area". Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Fire Stations" (PDF). Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  5. ^ SWAST Fire Co Responders Archived 2008-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Red Cross unveil new emergency van". Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Retrained firefighters attend 1,700 call-outs". BBC News. 11 June 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Control room scrapping 'will help Devon and Somerset". BBC News. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Devon and Cornwall 2018/19". Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HIMCFRS). 17 December 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  12. ^ "". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service - Young People". Retrieved 3 April 2018.

External links[edit]