Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority members have agreed a range of proposals to save £5.5million - which will now go to public consultation.

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The service’s government grant has been reduced by 10.3 per cent in 2013 and a further 7.3 per cent in 2014.

This means it will lose £3.4million in the next financial year and a further £2.1million the following year.

Councillor Mark Healey, chairman of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still will need to save £5.5m. Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.”

Chief fire officer Lee Howell added: “These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made. The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.

“We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money.”.

The consultation period will start on Monday (January 28) and end on April 22.

Proposals include an extended roll-out of light rescue pumps, reducing middle and senior management, investing more in preventative action and reducing support staff by at least 5 per cent by not renewing some fixed term contracts.

It is hoped more than £1m can be saved through greater efficiencies in back office support functions, improving procurement and managing spending.

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