DORSET & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued an urgent appeal for on-call firefighters after being unable to attend an incident in Melksham on Sunday.

The service was unable to respond to an emergency in the town on Sunday morning because it hadn't got enough on-call firefighters available locally to provide a crew.

Fire control officers were forced to call in crews from Trowbridge and Chippenham to a property fire in Lewington Close, Melksham, at around 10.15am on Sunday morning - even though it was only 150 metres away from the Melksham Fire Station in Semington Road.

DWFRS said firefighters used one hose reel and two sets of breathing apparatus to extinguish a fire which had started as a bonfire in the back garden but spread to the property.

The crews managed to contain the fire, saving the house from more serious fire damage. It is understood that police also attended.

The cause of the fire is disputed by the occupants of the property, who said it was not due to a bonfire.

DWFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Cole said: “Firefighters did a great job of saving the house involved in this incident. This fire occurred about 150 metres from Melksham Fire Station but unfortunately, due to lack of available firefighters, Melksham was not available to attend.

He added: “We have and continue to try to recruit on-call firefighters across Dorset and Wiltshire, this type of incident shows exactly why we need these new recruits.

"Whilst we will always make sure a fire engine responds to an incident when it is needed, in this case it took firefighters from Trowbridge 11 minutes from the call to arrive.

"If Melksham had been available, this response time could have been cut dramatically.”

On-call firefighters are paid members of staff who respond to their local station when they are required to attend incidents and help their local community. They receive the same levels of training and support as their full time colleagues.

Mr Cole added: "We are particularly interested in hearing from females or those from under-represented groups."

If you are interested in becoming an on-call firefighter, please go to: