Cuts To Devon Fire Service Loom

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has announced a range of proposals to save £5.5 million following a 'harsh' reduction in the Government’s grant settlement.

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.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell  has come up with a 11 point plan  which  makes cuts without closing fire stations, removing fire engines or making staff compulsorily redundant. These have now been accepted by the Devon and Somerset  Fire Authority.

Mr Howell's been talking to our reporter Wendy Buckingham CLICK HERE

But the Fire Brigades Union says  it'll mean 150 whole-time  fire fighters posts are lost, as more  engines are crewed by on-call fire-fighters.  And Union secretary Trevor French warns that will put lives at risk.  CLICK HERE

The plans will now be subject of a 12 week  public consultation process starting January28 and continuing until April 22..

The proposals include:

  • increasing prevention work in the community
  • introducing more light rescue pumps
  • reducing staff numbers through natural turnover
  • changing the status of some fire engines from wholetime to retained crewing

In addition, further government grant reductions are expected for 2015-2018.

Proposal 1

Extend the roll out of light rescue pumps which was consulted on, and agreed, last year. These vehicles reduce cost and improve performance.

Proposal 2

Respond to fewer automatic fire alarms (98% of which are false alarms) 

Proposal 3

In case of accidents, mobilise one co-responder directly from home/work rather than a crew and fire engine from a station. 

Proposal 4

Reduce the number of middle/senior managers.

Proposal 5

Invest £450,000 in fire prevention. Analysis shows that for every £145,000 spent on targeted prevention activity, a fire death is significantly reduced.

Proposal 6

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. 

Proposal 7

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.

Proposal 8

Cancel the pilot scheme at Yeovil fire station where an additional four firefighters are provided for non-operational activity.

Proposal 9

Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Taunton from wholetime to ‘on call’. 

Proposal 10

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.

Proposal 11

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  back office support functions. 

Bob Walker, FBU brigade chair said: “If the cuts proposed go through, there will be fewer firefighters, fewer fire stations and fewer fire engines. After the recent floods and fires firefighters have dealt with so professionally, the cuts would be a real kick in the teeth for both the public and the service. The FBU is asking people in our communities to stand up against damaging proposals for the fire and rescue service before it is too late.”