Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority members have agreed a range of proposals to save £5.5 million which will now go to public consultation.
The Service’s Government grant has been reduced by 10.3% in 2013 and a further 7.3% in 2014, which means the Service will lose £3.4m in the next financial year and a further £2.1m the following year.
Cllr Mark Healey, Chairman of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, said “The Chief Fire Officer and I have lobbied Government and will continue to do so to ensure we get a better Grant settlement next time. In addition, we have specifically asked for a meeting with the Minister to outline our concerns.
“We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still will need to save £5.5m. Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.”
Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said:
“These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made. The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.
“We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money”.
The consultation period will start on 28 January 2013 and end on 22 April 2013.
The proposed changes are:
Extend the roll out of light rescue pumps which was consulted on, and agreed, last year. These vehicles reduce cost and improve performance.
Implement the changes in how we will respond to automatic fire alarms (98% of which are false alarms) so that we only respond to high risk buildings automatically. This was consulted on and received public support last year. We now plan to further implement this change.
Mobilise one co-responder directly from home/work rather than mobilise a crew and fire engine from a station. This will improve attendance times, save more lives and reduce costs.
Reduce the number of middle/senior managers. As a result of our business changes, we will be able to reduce officer numbers without compromising performance.
Invest more time and money in additional prevention activity in 2013. Our analysis shows that for every £145,000 spent on targeted prevention activity, we significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire death. This will directly support our targeted approach and make people safer.
Change the crewing of three fire engines in Plymouth to ‘on call’ rather than whole time:
• Plympton and Plymstock fire engines to become 'on call'
• Camelshead keeps one fire engine crewed by wholetime firefighters but one pump is moved to Crownhill.
• Crownhill receives the fire engine moved from Camelshead and will have two fire engines, one crewed by wholetime and one crewed by on call firefighters
There will still be seven front line fire engines in Plymouth. Response times are largely unaffected and may be further improved by the introduction of additional light rescue pumps.
Crew the aerial appliance at Crownhill with ‘on call’ staff. No other aerial ladder platform is permanently crewed so this harmonises Plymouth with the arrangements elsewhere within the Service.
Cancel the pilot scheme at Yeovil fire station where an additional four firefighters are provided for non-operational activity (this standardises crewing so that Yeovil is crewed the same as other similar fire stations).
Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Taunton from wholetime to ‘on call’. Many firefighters already operate as ‘on call’ firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.
Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Torquay from wholetime to ‘on call’. Many firefighters already operate as ‘on call’ firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.
Change the crewing arrangements of the fire engine at Ilfracombe from day crewed (wholetime, day-time only) to ‘on call’.
In addition, the Service will:
Reduce support staff by at least 5% by not renewing some fixed term contracts.
Save more than £1m through greater efficiencies in our back office support functions, improving procurement and how we manage our spending