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Fire engine removal plans scrapped

Worcester Editorial 5th Oct, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

PLANS to remove an engine form Worcester Fire Station have been scrapped by councillors.

Members of Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority agreed to keep all three pumps at the city’s station at a meeting on Wednesday (October 1) as part of what is known as Option 2.

But one of the engines will no longer be full-time and will instead become a day duty pump where it will be crewed for 12-hours permanently and 12-hours on-call.

The decision follows previous proposals to remove the engine, leaving Worcester with just one full-time and one part-time crew.

Councillors also backed plans to use £800,000 from the authority’s savings to keep five whole-time firefighters on the first engines sent out from stations across the county as many times as possible – but this will not include Worcester and Hereford.

The changes, which aim to protect the counties’ services for at least two years, will also see a standard minimum of four firefighters per engine despite the Fire Brigades Union recommending five crew members.

The move comes as Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service need to cut £4million from its budget over the next three years – including £1.7million from the frontline.

A handful of councillors called for the introduction of the Day Crewing Plus System, where firefighters would be rostered for 24 hours but classified as ‘on duty’ for 12 hours during the day.

This would be followed by 12 hour nights where they would be on ‘standby’ and expected to sleep in purpose-built accommodation close to or at the station.

But Chief Fire Officer, Mark Yates, said it would cost the service between £120,000 and £150,000, although he agreed to look at introducing the scheme in the future if funds were available.

“Resources have an equation and the other side of that equation is how do we pay for the service? Nothing comes for free,” he said.

“I want as many firefighters as possible, as many fire engines as possible and as many fire stations as possible.

“But I have to live with the reality – how you pay for it is you have to ride four.”

He added Option 2 and the use of reserves gave the authority the ‘best solution’ for a difficult situation.

But Coun Richard Udall, who represents St John’s, said it was a sad day for the city.

“It is very disappointing we are debating how deep to cut our fire service. The proposals are not going to improve our safety or protect our public.

“Whatever we do today we are putting people’s lives at risk.”

Coun Graham Vickery, who represents Redditch North, called for Option 2 to include the Chief Fire Officer working with the unions, operational staff and elected members to look at feasibly introducing the Day Crewing Plus System in six to 12 months time, which was agreed by councillors.

 

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