Devon and Somerset FRS Proposals
Today, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) published proposals comprising of six options that in their words would ‘…create more flexibility and capability to deliver targeted prevention and protection work to reach the most vulnerable members of society and help keep them safe.’ The Service also claim that is has saved £12.2 million over the last five years, but that a further £8.4 million needs to be identified in the next three years. These proposals claim to provide this further saving.
The FRSA will oppose the closure of any On-Call station in DSFRS, as these community facilities provide the most cost effective provision of fire cover available in the UK. The service states that some of the stations identified for closure are low activity, this being the case and as On-Call firefighters are paid only when they attend an emergency incident, savings from closing these stations would be minimal. The incidents currently responded to by these stations will still need a response and therefore revenue savings will be low.
The service also makes note of some fire stations being unavailable due to a shortage of firefighters. This is and has been an issue for many years that the service is well aware of and in our opinion have not done enough to overcome. For the service to then expect the firefighters that are available at these stations to bear the brunt of the services’ failure to manage is unacceptable.
We are disappointed that the details of these proposals were only provided to us hours before going public, our view is that representative bodies should have been involved at an early stage to help formulate proposals that could have provided the necessary savings whilst minimising job losses to the frontline. This would have reduced the uncertainty a number of firefighters and their families will now have to endure over the coming months.
As with any such proposals, the detail can uncover whether the services proposals will stand up to scrutiny and we will over the coming days analyse the data and source our own evidence to provide alternative proposals in due course, this will be achieved in conjunction with our members from across Devon and Somerset.
The services’ proposals will be considered by Members of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority as early as next week. If the Authority agree, the proposals will then go forward for a 12 week public consultation during the period 1 July to 20 September 2019, the FRSA will play its full part in this consultation exercise.
M: 07912 734114
Note to editors
The six options which will be presented to the Fire Authority by DSFRS are as follows:
Option 1 – Station closures
Station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham* and Woolacombe.
*Note: One appliance from Topsham will be relocated to Middlemoor.
Option 2 – Station closures and removal of third appliances
Option 1, plus: Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil Fire Stations all have three fire engines (two of which are crewed by ‘on call staff’). It is proposed that one of these ‘on call’ fire engines is removed from each of the four stations outlined.
Option 3 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances
Option 2, plus: Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes all have two fire engines. It is proposed that one of these fire engines is removed from each of the four stations outlined.
Option 4 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances and change of status to day crewing
Option 3, plus: Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton currently have whole time crew on these fire stations 24/7. It is proposed that the station still operates on a 24/7 basis but at night, the fire engines are crewed by ‘on call’ staff.
Option 5 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing and to on-call at night only
Option 4, plus: Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Wellington, Wells and Williton Fire Stations all have two fire engines. Rather than take away the second fire engine from these stations, it is proposed that the first fire engine is still crewed 24/7 with ‘on call’ staff but the second fire engine is crewed at night.
Option 6 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing, on-call at night only and introduction of day crewed roving appliances
Option 5, plus: It is proposed that six day-crewed fire engines (with trained Firefighters on the fire engine) are introduced which will be deployed in areas of forecasted high risk and/or where gaps in ‘on call’ cover is presented. These firefighters will undertake additional fire prevention visits and building fire protection inspections to help make people and buildings safer. They will be available to immediately respond to incidents and improve response times in the area located. Note: these 6 fire wholetime crewed (Full Time Equivalent) fire engines are in addition to the current wholetime fire stations that will be unaffected during the day. These existing wholetime fire stations are: Bridgwater, Taunton, Yeovil, Exeter (Danes Castle), Exeter (Middlemoor), Exmouth, Barnstaple, Torquay, Paignton, Plymouth (Crownhill), Plymouth (Greenbank), Plymouth (Camels Head).
DSFRS is the largest non-metropolitan fire and rescue service in the country and is the largest employer of on-call firefighters in the country, comprising of 85 fire stations, 121 fire appliances, 2,000 members of staff, including 1,500 operational staff.
Wholetime firefighters work from a fire station and are available to respond from the fire station directly to emergency calls at a moment’s notice. The Fire Service is their primary employer.
‘On call’ firefighters have other primary employment and attend fire stations as and when required, providing the most efficient provision of fire cover in the UK.