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1 November 2010, 16:36
A Consultation process has started into plans to make changes to the way the Fire Service in Kent is run. The consultation will run until Jan 17th, these are the statements Heart has been sent by the service
Two new state-of-the-art fire stations in Medway are among major plans being considered by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS). “With efficient, fit for purpose buildings, and firefighters in the right place, at the right time, we will be able to improve future services for the area,” says Area Manager Steve Jeffery.
Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority - which oversees the way KFRS is run – has agreed today (1 November) that a number of proposals will now go out to public consultation until 17 January. In February, the Authority will review the outcomes and make a final decision.
Based on highly detailed data analysis that identifies the number and nature of incidents occurring across the area, as well as predicting new risks, the long-term plans could involve the building of two new fire stations to serve the area, ideally from better placed sites at Brompton in Gillingham and near Rochester airport.
In the short-term, the authority is considering the future of Chatham and Gillingham Fire Stations, both of which have location issues and are currently staffed by retained firefighters who generally have full time work commitments, so are not able to guarantee that they can get engines on the run at the times of highest risk.
With one fire engine and both crews moving to Medway Fire Station - based at Watling Street, Gillingham - this measure will ensure a minimum of three fire appliances are always available in the area. When sites have been identified for the two new stations and they are fully operational, KMFRA will consider whether Watling Street is still needed.
Area Manager Steve Jeffery says: “These are exciting plans which are based on a huge amount of analysis of incident data and fire risk as well as the expertise of our own staff. The public should have confidence in KFRS that we are making sure that we are able to match resources to risk so we can deliver an even better service in the future.”
A number of factors have prompted the proposals, such as the development of Chatham town centre which could affect the access to Chatham Fire Station while national legislation has led to a review of the working patterns of part-time staff.
Meanwhile, statistics also show that because of the availability of part-time firefighters and the current positioning of the stations, the first call for most incidents in the whole area goes to Medway Fire Station which is crewed round the clock. Chatham and Gillingham currently provide back-up.
Steve Jeffery added: “The public has become much better at heeding safety warnings and taking responsibility for protecting their families, homes and businesses and we have seen almost an 18 per cent fall in the number of fires over 3 years** so it is important we adapt to changing needs and demands.
“However, our crews are facing greater challenges in the types of fires and rescues they’re attending and we must ensure their safety by providing the best possible training and equipment.
“We believe that by bringing the staff and resources from these three stations together, using modern, efficient, fit for purpose buildings, we will have the right people in the right place at the right time and will be able to provide the best possible fire and rescue cover for the whole community for many years to come.”
The proposals are included in the KMFRA “Towards 2020” Integrated Risk Management Plan which is published today (1 November). For more information, please visit our website at www.kent.fire-uk.org
For more information, please visit our website or come along and see our display at Westwood Cross shopping centre on 7 January between 10am and 4pm.