Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service 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. 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 is the fifth largest fire and rescue service in the United Kingdom.[1]

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Operational area
Country UK
Country England
Agency overview
Established1 April 2007
Chief Fire OfficerLee Howell
Facilities and equipment
Official website

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service was founded on 1 April 2007, following the merger of Devon Fire and Rescue Service with Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.[1] 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 Service's main headquarters is located at Clyst St George near Exeter. Its main training centre is the Service Training Centre (STC) at Plympton fire station. The Service employs approximately 1,850 staff, including 578 whole time 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 Service Headquarters, Exeter.

Fire stations/appliances

The fire service operates 85 fire stations, which is the second most in an English fire service after those of the London Fire Brigade.

Station number Station name Duty system Appliances
01BarnstapleWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1x WrC, 1x ALP, 1x L4V, 1x SRU, 1x LUV
02IlfracombeRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x ICU
03AppledoreRetained1x LRP
04BidefordRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP
05BrauntonRetained1x WrL
06ChulmleighRetained1x WrL
07Combe MartinRetained1x WrL
08HartlandRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
09HatherleighRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
10HolsworthyRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
11LyntonRetained1x WrL, 1x RIV, 1x ERU
12North TawtonRetained1x WrL, 1x EPU
13OkehamptonRetained2x WrL, 1x L4P, 1x IRU
14South MoltonRetained1x WrL, 1x EPU
15TorringtonRetained1x WrL
16WoolacombeRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
17TorquayWholetime/retained2x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x WrC, 1x L4P, 1x ALP, 1x LUV
18PaigntonWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x LRP
19AshburtonRetained1x WrL
20Bovey TraceyRetained1x WrL, 1x L4P, 1x ISU
21BrixhamRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP
22BuckfastleighRetained1x WrL
23ChagfordRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
24DartmouthRetained1x WrL, 1x WrT
25DawlishRetained1x LRP, 1x ERU
26KingsbridgeRetained1x WrL
27MoretonhampsteadRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
28Newton AbbotRetained1x WrL, 1x RIV, 1x EPU
29SalcombeRetained1x LRP
30TeignmouthRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP
31TotnesRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4P, 1x ICU
32Danes Castle, ExeterWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x F/WrC, 1x ALP, 1x LUV
33ExmouthWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1X SWRT
34AxminsterRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
35BamptonRetained1x WrL
36Budleigh SaltertonRetained1x WrL
37ColytonRetained1x WrL
38CreditonRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x ERU, 1x PM+ISU
39CullomptonRetained1x WrL, 1x L4P
40HonitonRetained2x WrL, 1x HLU
41Ottery St. MaryRetained1x LRP
42SeatonRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU
43SidmouthRetained1x WrL, 1x WrT
44TivertonRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP
45TopshamRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP
46WitheridgeRetained1x WrL
47PlymptonRetained1x WrL, 1x WrC, 1x PM+BFU, 1x LUV
48Camels HeadWholetime1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1x L4V, 1x SRU, 1x IrbT
49CrownhillWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x ALP
50GreenbankWholetime1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x ICU
51PlymstockRetained1x LRP, 1x FB
52Bere AlstonRetained1x WrL
53IvybridgeRetained1x WrL, 1x ERU, 1x PM
54KingstonVolunteer1x RIV
55ModburyRetained1x WrL
56PrincetownRetained1x RIV, 1x ERU
57TavistockRetained1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1x HLU, 1x L4V
58YelvertonRetained1x WrL
59Middlemoor, ExeterWholetime1x WrL, 1x L4P, 1x HRU
60Clyst St George/HQ (USAR)Wholetime1x CSU, 3x L4V, 1x SRU, 2x SDU, 1x GPV, 1x LUV, 1x PCV, 4x PM, Modules: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, pods: 1x HVP, 1x HVHL, 1x MDD
61TauntonWholetime/retained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x WrT, 1x ALP, 1x L4V, 1x ISU, 1x EPU, 1x IRU, 2x PM*, pods: 1x HVP, 1x HVHL, 1x MDR
62BridgwaterWholetime/retained2x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x WrC, 1x HP, 1x L4V, 1x SRU
63Burnham-on-SeaRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4V, 1x PM, pods: 1x BFU, 1x WFU
64DulvertonRetained1x WrL, 1x L4P,
65GlastonburyRetained1x WrL, 1x HRU, 1x L4V
66MineheadRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4P
67Nether StoweyRetained1x WrL, 1x L4P,
68PorlockRetained1x LRP, 1x L4P, 1x ERU, 1x ATV
69StreetRetained1x WrL, 1x CSU
70WellingtonRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4V
71WillitonRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x ERU
72WiveliscombeRetained1x LRP, 1x CSU
73YeovilWholetime/retained1x WrL, 2x WrT, 1x WrC, 1x ALP, 1x L4V, 1x ISU
74Castle CaryRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V
75ChardRetained1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1x L4V
76CheddarRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V, 1x ATV
77CrewkerneRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V
78FromeRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4V
79IlminsterRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V, 1x L6P
80MartockRetained1x WrL, 1x WrT, 1x L4V
81Shepton MalletRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4P
82SomertonRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V
83WellsRetained1x WrL, 1x LRP, 1x L4P
84WincantonRetained1x WrL, 1x L4V
85Lundy IslandVolunteer1x L4V, 1x WrB, 1x TrP

Fire appliance glossary

  • Water ladder (WrL): P1 / P3
  • Water tender (WrT): P2 / P5
  • Rapid intervention vehicle (RIV): P1 /P2
  • Light rescue pump (LRP): P1 / P2
  • Light 6x6 pump (L6P): P9
  • Aerial ladder platform (ALP): A1
  • Fire boat (FB): B1
  • Command support unit (CSU): C1
  • Environmental protection unit (EPU): H2
  • Light 4x4 pump (L4P): M1
  • Light 4x4 vehicle (L4V): M5 / R2 / T5
  • Heavy rescue unit (HRU): R1
  • Specialist rescue unit (SRU): R5
  • Incident support unit (ISU): S4
  • Light utility vehicle (LUV): T2
  • Prime mover (PM): T2 / T8 / T9


  • Bulk foam unit (BFU)
  • High volume pump (HVP)
  • High volume hose layer (HVHL)
  • Incident support unit (ISU)
  • Hose layer unit (HLU): W1
  • Water carrier (WrC): W1 / W3
  • Co-responder/emergency response unit (ERU): V1 / V3


  • All terrain vehicle (ATV)
  • Inshore rescue boat (IrbT)
  • Pump (TrP)
  • Water vowser (WrB)

Urban search & rescue (USAR):

  • Command support unit (CSU): C1
  • Light 4x4 vehicle (L4V): M5 / M6 / R2
  • Specialist rescue unit (SRU): R5
  • Search & rescue dog unit (SDU): R8 / R9
  • General purpose vehicle (GPV): T1
  • Light utility vehicle (LUV): T2
  • Personnel carrier vehicle (PCV): T3
  • Prime mover (PM): T6 / T7 / T8 / T9


  • Module 1 - Technical search equipment
  • Module 2 - Heavy transport, confined space & hot cutting equipment
  • Module 3 - Breaching & breaking equipment
  • Module 4 - Multi-purpose vehicle
  • Module 5 - Shoring operations

CBRN response:

  • Incident response unit (IRU): H9
  • Prime mover + mass decontamination disrobe (PM+MDD): T9
  • Prime mover + mass decontamination rerobe (PM+MDR): T9


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.[2]

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 still on duty), allowing the fire appliance to remain available.

Nineteen stations operate as co-responders:

  • Axminster 34
  • Chagford 23
  • Cheddar 76
  • Combe Martin 07
  • Crediton 38
  • Dawlish 25
  • Dulverton 64
  • Hartland 08
  • Hatherleigh 09
  • Holsworthy 10
  • Ivybridge 53
  • Lynton 11
  • Moretonhampstead 27
  • Nether Stowey 67
  • Porlock 68
  • Princetown 56
  • Seaton 42
  • Williton 71
  • Woolacombe 16

Station grounds

M5 motorway

The M5 motorway is the arterial route through Devon and Somerset. It is the main link road to the south west from the Midlands and the North. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service divide the M5 into sections so that the nearest appliances attend. The station grounds are:

  • Northbound - Bravo
    • J31J30 : 59 Middlemoor
    • J30J29 : 59 Middlemoor
    • J29J28 : 59 Middlemoor
    • J28J27 : 39 Cullompton
    • J27J26 : 39 Cullompton
    • J26J25 : 70 Wellington
    • J25J24 : 61 Taunton
    • J24J23 : 62 Bridgwater
    • J23J22 : 62 Bridgwater
    • J22J21 : 63 Burnham-On-Sea
  • Southbound - Alpha
    • J21J22 : Avon FRS 18 Weston-super-Mare
    • J22J23 : 63 Burnham-On-Sea
    • J23J24 : 62 Bridgwater
    • J24J25 : 62 Bridgwater
    • J25J26 : 61 Taunton
    • J26J27 : 70 Wellington
    • J27J28 : 39 Cullompton
    • J28J29 : 59 Middlemoor
    • J29J30 : 59 Middlemoor
    • J30J31 : 59 Middlemoor

HMNB Devonport

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

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

Devon and Somerset use a variety of front-line and special appliances.

Operating from 85 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. This is the largest vehicle fleet of any English fire service outside of London. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is the UK's largest fire service, and indeed the fourth largest on the planet since its formation in 2013 with the amalgamation of all eight of its regional fire brigades.[3]

Water tender ladder

A water tender ladder's (WrL) major capabilities include pumping up to 3,000 litres (660 gallons) per minute between two locations. It has a storage capacity of 1,800 litres (396 gallons). The appliance carries a range of ladders up to 13.5 metres (44 ft). Inside the cab are four sets of compressed air breathing apparatus. Each WrL has six external lockers on the sides. Equipment stowed inside these lockers includes a set of powered hydraulic rescue equipment, a thermal imaging camera, water rescue equipment, a positive pressure ventilation fan and safety at height equipment. There are occasions when a water tender, and not the water tender ladder, would be mobilised first to keep the Water Tender Ladder (the primary fire engine) 'on-the-run' and available.

Water tender

Water tenders (WrT) are broadly similar to the water tender ladders, but carry a different range of equipment, with ladders up to 10.5 metres (34 ft). They are not the primary responder to a road traffic collision - despite carrying hydraulic cutting equipment, the equipment is not as robust or effective as that carried on a water tender ladder. Water tenders are used to attend miscellaneous incidents such as small fires in bins, vegetation, chimneys or cars; or to minor rescues such as a lift entrapment or someone locked out of their home. Often they support water tender ladders at larger incidents such as property fires and at road traffic collisions. A water tender, like its counterpart the water tender ladder, is capable of carrying up to six firefighters, although often they carry only four. The county operates a number of specialist water tenders located in particularly harsh rural areas or at stations with a considerable area of muddy estuary or perilous beach. The vehicles are full-sized water tenders but have the added benefit of four-wheeled drive, higher, more robust suspension and knobbly all-terrain tyres. Exmouth is one such station that operates one of these vehicles.

Incident command unit

Incident command unit (ICU) vehicles perform the role of an on-site control point, providing a single point of contact with the control rooms. The ICUs are mobilised to large or protracted incidents. Often, they are mobilised when four or more appliances are mobilised; or when the Incident Commander requests the attendance of additional appliances, taking the total to four or more. They control all communications on the incident ground and provide a single point of contact for the control room and Incident Commanders.

Environmental Units and Incident Support Units (Prime Mover)

The Environmental Units (EU) and Incident Support Units (ISU) (Prime Mover) are used to provide logistical support to large incidents and carry additional equipment that complements what is carried on front-line appliances. They carry a large range of special equipment for controlling chemical spills and protecting the environment.

Water carrier

The Service uses a number of water carriers (WrC), which enable large quantities of water to be transported to support appliance in rural areas or where additional water is required such as at a fire on the motorway where water supplies could be sparse. Each vehicle holds 9,000 litres of water. A number of them also carry 1,000 litres (220 gallons) of firefighting foam (water foam carrier; WFC).

Hose layer

The FRS has three hose laying vehicles which are used to enable the pumping of water from a water source to support a large incident. Each hose layer carries almost 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) of hose.

Rescue vehicle

These vehicles carry a wide range of specialist equipment that is used to support operations at road traffic collisions and other rescue situations. They also carry boats which provide waterborne rescue capabilities.

Aerial ladder platform

Aerial ladder platforms (ALP) are located at strategic locations across the service area. They have a working height of 30 metres (98 ft) and are used both to carry out rescues from height, and also as firefighting platforms. They are also used to give firefighters safe access into fires. Occasionally they are also used to monitor a fire from above, or provide lighting. The ingenious three-section hydraulic boom design of these vehicles means that the rescue cage can be positioned below ground level, and can therefore be utilised in water rescues, or rescues off a bridge parapet or into a shallow ravine.


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.

Off-road appliances

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.

Line rescue unit

Specially trained crews use these vehicles to carry out rescues on the cliffs and quarry faces across the region.

Support vehicles

L4P and L4V support vehicles are used to support operations by providing logistics and access in difficult terrain. In some cases they may be fitted with special firefighting units called Brendon pumps to support heath and moorland fires. At some rural stations they double up as emergency response units for co-responder roles.

Emergency response unit co-responder vehicle)

Co-responder stations have a dedicated vehicle for 'co-responder' medical calls so the fire appliance remains available. The vehicles are equipped with oxygen and automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment.

Incident response unit

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.

high volume pump

The high volume pump (HVP) has the capability of delivering large volumes of water over great distances utilising additional pumps. They can pump 7,000 litres/min, and hose can be deployed utilising the 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) hose boxes at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). It also carries a variety of ancillary equipment including, hose adaptors, 5-way manifolds, Y-pieces, gate valves, non-return valves, water safety equipment, harnesses & lanyards, hose ramps, change of direction equipment, edge protection, sack trolley and lighting, cones and tape. A HVP has the pumping capacity of eight standard fire engines.

Urban search and rescue

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

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[4] 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.


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,[5] but the plan was formally scrapped in December 2010 by the Government.[6]

Mutual assistance

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 the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are:

Children and young people

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has a number of schemes for young people.[8]

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

Other local emergency services


  1. "Brigade 'based on local response'". BBC News. 26 March 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  2. SWAST Fire Co Responders Archived 2008-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2010-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Red Cross unveil new emergency van". Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2009-04-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Control room scrapping 'will help Devon and Somerset". BBC News. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  7. "". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. "Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service - Young People". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
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