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One or Two Pump Stations?


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Do you prefer working out of one or two pump stations and why? 

Also does a station having a special influence your choice of base station? 

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I really enjoyed working at a 2 pump station (When WRT was on the run). When we had a job, we had the added benefit of up to 12 crew members, who you knew well, working in some sort of simultaneous fashion. More people on station is an added bonus, but it seems as though the same 4 were always around just keeping the 1st pump available, considering you have more people you would naturally assume more would be available. The downside was having a 1 pump shout on a 2 pump station. If you had 8 on call, then you would leave 4 behind, this can sometimes really penalise the lower ranking officers and drivers who may have to stay with the second appliance.

1 pump stations can have issues when 10+ FF's on the run and then you can only take 6, but as long as you have a fair stand down procedures, it shouldn't cause too many issues. Some brigades I feel have it right with 8 or 9 crew riding pumps, you always have a high chance of riding.


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2 pump stations for me all day long. If a station has 2 pumps then the ground will be a busy one, otherwise they’d of taken a pump away 🙄

I like being at a busy station and on a bigger watch. I guess not everyone does. 

Just the buzz around a 2 pump station is better for me. As far as specials go, an aerial is a good thing, some more complex specials I’ve experienced are less fun ! 😃 

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Dyson completely agree 👍 I was a temp Lfm on a specials station riding the prime mover.... worst 4 months of my career.  In charge of the pump on a busy 2 pump station however was ace 👍👍

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Think it probably depends on how you crew, in our service you can be on a one pump and also be riding Ariel and water carriers, so the days can be busy , but conversely the two pumps can be busier (but not necessarily) when I was riding I did one pump stations but they always had specials, it’s more about the amount and variety of jobs rather than the numbers for me.

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I was promoted into a 1 pump station (Sub O in Charge) which was almost entirely surrounded by other 1 pump stations and more Sub Os. It wasn't the busiest of stations, but was a good way to learn the job without a pesky Station Officer turning up at every shout and grabbing it. Indeed, the only Stn O I ever saw was very much into supporting and rarely took over. I have had 5 pumps at a large house job (because of multiple calls) and the first Stn O to arrive was a Fire Investigator!

How I acted at incidents had to change too. No more dash around the back or up the stairs to assess as my crews prepared. If I went upstairs, I had to take a line, or grab a hosereel and be part of the attack

It was a big ground (for London) with lots of hydrants to be inspected, premises to be visited and all by one crew. So my role was very busy with no 2nd appliance and crew to assist. But from a firefighters POV I would have hated it. You lose the Sub O and LFF in the office and the Mess Manager in the kitchen, that is only 3 of you left to do everything and to enjoy some banter. Volleyball was a joke. We unofficially played badminton in the appliance room and went to a neighbouring station for 'drills' where we got the net up or if raining, indoor bowls!!!

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I’m based at a 1 pump with only a year and few months in, but have done a lot of standbys at 2s. Although I obviously can’t vouch completely because I’m not a member of the watch on 2s, but I prefer them so so much. Im itching to get my diamonds off so I can get some transfers in to one! 

The bigger watches, the busier grounds (especially since I’m a buck and will probably be on the pump!) are what make them kind of standbys for me.


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2 pump stations for me. It's a bit quiet and lonely for me if there's only 4 of you bumbling about. But it comes down to who you have on your watch too.

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Two pumps is the new normal for me. You just get used to having more people and noise around. You also get used to going out the doors with two lorries to anything significant whereas before it was cycling through who might be your second pump in your mind and working out how long it would take.  Volume of actual jobs is also a plus, though that's on it's arse in the current circumstances.

We did have a spate however of three of our two pump stations sending one of their lorries to standby at on-call station during the day to spread cover around. This seems to have stopped for us but the other two still do it (the fourth retains its two pumps due to the presence of a rather large cathedral besides other things....). Long term rumour (and it is just that for now) is the Brigade wants to do away with most two pump stations and have an even spread of single pumps throughout the county.

Do you reckon two pump stations are seen as low hanging fruit for "reorganization"?

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There's two 2 pump stations in the brigade I work for, one in the north one in the south and the one in the south is the one I'm stationed at. 

It's great having lots of bods about on a shift, makes training and general station work a hell of lot easier. But as has already been mentioned. Being the only 2 pump station to cover half the county means the second gets pulled for reliefs and standbys all the time. 

Going out in a convoy is great but sometimes (this may be a positive point for some and not a negative,) being on the first when the second gets a job can make you jealous. But on the flip side if it's an AFA, relief duties or standby at an ungodly hour it does soften the blow when as the second pump is driving away you can crawl back into your pit.

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Ive only ever been posted to multi appliance stations, but I have to say I enjoy them far more than when I've stood by at one appliance stations.

It depends on the watch, some single appliance stations are great and all muck in together for the whole shift, others most of the crew go off and do their own thing. Can make it a long shift!

Its a personal thing, some people prefer to mix with large groups and inevitably you don't get on with everyone all the time you're not in each other's pockets riding the same truck all the time. You can do more training wise as well, and you get the variety of riding different machines so either going out on the little bits and reliefs on the pump or being initial BA on the pump ladder as it is in London. 

I can't speak for other brigades, but in London once you get a skill at a special station it is often difficult to then transfer later to a non specialist station. it doesn't bother me personally, and a station having a special wouldn't put me off moving there if the ground, station, watch etc were all sound. You get to attend incidents you wouldn't normally attend on your own ground, and learn a different set of skills where if promotion is something that interests you that's only going to benefit you. 

Also acting up and promotion wise, I reckon you're better off at a multi appliance where you actually get to ride up front and in charge of your own truck rather than sat in the back at a one appliance. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 15/05/2020 at 08:46, OscarTango said:

Do you reckon two pump stations are seen as low hanging fruit for "reorganization"?

Norfolk’s two Pump Retained Stations days are numbered. Five of them, with one covering Sandringham the rest covering larger rural Market Towns Cromer, Diss, Fakenham, and Wymondham . 

Sandringham have lost there second Pump. Cromer have had theirs taken away already.

Whereas the other three are hanging on to theirs until they come to the end of their working lives with much local opposition and opposition from the crews to the proposals. The plan is two replace them with a large cab Rescue Pump with 9 Seater Cabs plus a HILUX 4x4 Multi Purpose vehicle capable of carrying differing equipment loads for different incidents  including a Misting Unit. The 4x4’s are now coming into fruition. 4x4 capability is a big thing down here due to the threat from tidal surges and flooding as well as rural off road fires in the summer months.

Id say the days of the two appliance station are numbered. The Brigade regularly argues that these appliances attend very few incidents and they are difficult to get a crew and of course cost more to maintain. The phrase Use them or lose them springs to mind. 

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When LFB was mostly two pump stations, the handful of one pump stations were generally quieter. I say generally as there were always the odd two pump station for special risks that were quiet, compared to  couple of the busier one pump stations. Millwall with a PL & P vs Shadwell with only a PL as an example. Of course, I am talking about a different Fire Brigade in different times when the call totals per year were around 250k, double what they are today and most of Central and Inner Lonon was A-risk so three and an aerial went on everything. It was usual back then to go out 10+ times per shift most of the time. Fires were also around 60k per year, I think that is now down to around 30k.

However, I think LFB only have just short of 40 two pump stations left these day, with about 60% being single pump stations. Some of these stations (Sidcup, Kingston etc) exist as two pump stations purely because surrounding stations cant make the attendance times for the second appliance. Conversely, Central and Inner London have seen a vast reduction of second pumps over the last 15 years, including some very busy areas. So now, a lot of the busiest stations for calls and in some cases fires are now single pump stations. The two standouts being Euston and Shoreditch, both of which have the two busiest pumping appliances. (Soho's pumping appliance calls are higher, but they share this between two pumps).*

This also means a lot of these PL' s at busy one pumpers, now generally surrounded by one pumpers really see a wide variety of work. That said, it also causes difficulties with on arrival tasctics as the variance on who could meet who and where is vast.

Back in my day, I spent all of my time at two pump stations apart from outduties or the odd spell of acting up... and that is how I liked it. If I was still in today, as a Firefighter or J.O, with the exception of a few notables like Stoke Newington or Tottenham, I think I'd rather be somewhere like Euston, Shoreditch or Whitechapel... Busy one pumpers with a great variety of work that are close to the centre so get all of the unusual stuff like big central London jobs, terrorism and the like, but also get all of the 'inner city' shouts like flat jobs and small commericial premises.

* The calls I am talking about are only related to 'pumping appliance' calls and not specials such as aerials or rescue's at the multi-appliance stations... all of which can completely alter the figures.

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