A RURAL rescue makes the case for a referendum on full time fire cover in the county, the fire brigades union (FBU) says this week.

Hereford’s two full-time crews were scrambled to Dulas, near Ewyas Harold, late on Saturday afternoon to free two seriously injured teenagers trapped in a 4x4  that had left a road to collide with a tree.

Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service (HWFRS) confirmed that the Ewyas Harold appliance was “temporarily unavailable” at the time with Hereford’s two full-time appliances being the nearest.

Cuts proposed by HWFRS would have one full-time appliance on 24/7 standby at Hereford and a maximum of seven full-time fire-fighters who would also have to crew any specialist response required like a rescue boat or turntable ladder.

The predetermined attendance for an incident at Dulas  would normally have been one appliance from Ewyas Harold and one appliance from Hereford, with  Peterchurch and Whitchurch as back-up options.

HWFRS said that with Hereford’s two full time appliances out, retained appliances at Hereford, Fownhope, and Ross-on-Wye remained available to provide the “strategic  cover” for  the south of the county.

Steve Gould,  secretary to Hereford & Worcester FBU, said the Hereford crews reached the Dulas scene within 20  minutes of being turned out at 5.22pm on Saturday – including getting out of Hereford city to cover a distance of around 14 miles.

“This is not an issue with retained crews that do a first class job, this is about the pressures they, and their employers,  will be put under should the cuts come in and how those pressures will affect cover across the county – as Saturday’s incident shows,” he said.

With Hereford’s two full-time appliances out, the nearest full-time response would have been scrambled from Malvern.

Two air ambulances flew the seriously injured teenagers to  Queen Elizabeth Hospital , Birmingham, once they were freed from the 4x4.