'UNCERTAINTY' has been extended for thousands of people waiting to see how changes to the fire and rescue service might affect communities throughout Somerset.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue launched a consultation at the beginning of the summer in order to 'modernise' the service.

But the changes would include reducing the number of fire engines based at fire stations, and in some case, closing the stations.

In Somerset, the possible changes include closing Porlock fire station and reducing fire cover in Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil, as well as smaller changes to other stations.

Following the 12-week consultation, a decision was set to be made in early November.

But now the thousands of people who responded to the consultation will have to wait another month, as the fire service has moved the crucial meeting back to December 18.

The service received 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions after announcing the potential plans.

Chief fire officer, Lee Howell, said: “I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have taken the time to share their views through the consultation.

"It has been a great opportunity to openly discuss our challenges and proposed solutions with people across our two counties.

“I appreciate that moving the decision extends the uncertainty for our staff and communities who are affected by the proposals.

"We don’t take any proposals to close stations or remove fire engines lightly which is why it is vital that we take time to thoroughly analyse and carefully consider the responses.”

The proposals have largely been met with a negative response, as councils across the area have said the removal of engines or closing of stations could result in danger.

But the service says there is a need for change, as the 'risk' has changed across the force area.