A UNION member has criticised Cumbria's Fire & Rescue service after engines and pumps had to be pulled in from across the county to tackle a blaze at an industrial site in Haverigg last Saturday.

Forces from around the county were called to Millom last Saturday morning after a garage at Haverigg Exhaust and Tyre Centre caught fire.

Millom fire station responded to the fire immediately but crews from Barrow, Ambleside, Bootle, Ulverston, Egremont and Broughton also had to be dispatched to put out the flames.

Barrow Fire Brigade Union rep Tony Callister condemned the lack of personnel available due to recent budget cuts and warned that the situation could have been much more severe.

He said: "The resources were far too stretched on Saturday. When we get called out to these sorts of incidents we just don't have enough personnel.

"We have seen a huge drain in staffing numbers over the years and these numbers have not been replaced; and that places a huge burden on the existing staff.

"Four or five years ago a shift at Barrow fire station used to run on 14 firefighters with two fire engines. Now we have one fire engine with only four or five staff.

"It's only a matter of time before there is a fatality and then serious questions will be asked."

While ten crews dealt with the garage fire, an engine from Ambleside, which had already been drafted across to Millom, had to be forwarded on to Barrow to deal with a house fire.

However, Stuart Dolan, who was the incident commander on the day of the Haverigg fire, urged the public not to panic about a lack of resources.

He said: "Resources did have to be taken from further afield, however what we do is have reinforcements elsewhere.

"It has been like this for years, we have had massive incidents in the north and south of the county but we have always been able to cope.

"There is no cause for worry because the job was well managed. The Millom crew were fundamental - they stopped the fire from spreading and contained the flames quickly."

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