No 4-crew Fire Engines For Cambridgeshire

15 September 2011, 06:00 | Updated: 15 September 2011, 06:51

Cambridgeshire's fire bosses have met with the Fire Authority and the county's MPs in Westminster to outline how £4.2m is to be cut from service.

A worst case scenario was also discussed, where a further £2m might need to be saved annually - and where the Brigade believe even deeper savings could be achieved - but Government funding details on that won't be available until the end of the year.

In May 2011, Heart reported the Fire Authority had approved cuts of up to £4.2m - and recommended the following:

* The Service should commence negotiations with the Fire Brigades Union with a view to implementing a revised shift system that is based on either three 8-hour shifts or a five watch shift system. 

* Natural wastage of not replacing operational managers but some compulsory redundancies for support staff and some areas may be restructured losing 30-40 back office staff (29% of the total number currently employed).

* The Operational Support Unit to be closed after alternative measures put in place (provides refreshments to crews at protracted incidents and used on average 20 times a year).

* As soon as possible, the Service should reduce the number of Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Units in operational service to one Unit, that will be sited at St Neots fire station.

* The Turntable Ladders sited at Dogsthorpe and Cambridge should be scrapped by the end of 2011 now there's two new
appliances - one in Peterborough and a new one arriving in Cambridge. 

* A review of a Rescue Vehicle based in Huntingdon now that new fire engines contain the hydraulic cutting equipment older
vehicles didn't have; and whether the one at Dogsthorpe should be moved to Stanground for better access to the A1.

* Reviewing the crewing system at Huntingdon Fire Station.

* Looking at whether it's still worthwhile keeping an appliance at Manea, Burwell, Thorney and Gamlingay. And whether it's still viable to keep a second appliance at St Ives, Ramsey, Soham, and Ely

* A full review of shift systems at Day Crewed stations.

A review of the shift system worked by firefighters at St Neots, Wisbech and Ely to increase productivity and delivery of service will be presented to the Fire Authority in October.

This will also include a review of the second fire engine at Cambridge, whether the two fire stations at Peterborough can be merged and a review of March and Stanground fire stations.

Chris Strickland, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire told Heart "We do not want to be in this situation and our staff in all areas work hard and are passionate about working for our Service. However, we have no choice. Seventy two per cent of our overall budget goes on staff and we cannot make the cuts without some staff being affected. We will ensure staff receive every possible support.

A system of fire-engines (or pumps/appliances) being staffed by a crew of 4 is being introduced by some Fire Brigades around the country - is that something which can be considered for Cambridgeshire as a way of cutting costs?

Mr Strickland told Heart: "That is NOT something we are looking at doing it is not our intention to go there. We are a small service we have a small full-time contingent to our service. What we wouldn't be looking to have is having 4 people turning up to a fire because our "Safe System" to work, requires 5. Other bigger services which have lots more whole-time appliances, they can send more than one appliance to an incident, and therefore have enough staff to deal with it, we don't."