'Dangerous' fire cuts will 'compromise public safety', says union

PUBLISHED: 17:26 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 20 June 2019

The FBU have reacted to the proposals. Picture: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

The FBU have reacted to the proposals. Picture: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Furious firefighters have slammed proposals which they say will 'cut front-line services to the bone'.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the proposals by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) will leave the public at risk.

James Leslie, FBU Devon and Somerset brigade secretary, said: "Devon and Somerset firefighters are furious with these proposals. The plans would undeniably compromise public safety across both counties.

"Despite promises from senior management to protect front-line services, full-time fire cover and jobs have been slashed since the combination in 2007 which created DSFRS. Now the service appears to have given up on vital retained fire cover.

"We demand that the fire authority rejects these proposals. The FBU will not tolerate these dangerous plans and we plan to mobilise against them."

The FBU says management are 'misleading the public' by claiming planned changes will improve services and keep them safe.

There are six options which the service's members will look at during a meeting next week, and if approved a 12-week public consultation will be held from July 1 to September 20.

One option will see the closure of stations at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe.

Here are the options being debated:

Option 1 - Station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe.

One appliance from Topsham will be relocated to Middlemoor.

Option 2 - Station closures and removal of third appliances - option 1 plus a move to remove four 'on call' fire engines, one from each station at Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil - currently they all have three fire engines.

Option 3 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances - option 2 plus a move to remove four engines, one from each station in Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes - each one currently has two fire engines.

Option 4 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances and change of status to day crewing - option 3 plus changing the staffing at three stations (Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton) - they currently all staffed 24/7. It's proposed the station will be staffed in the day but at night there will only be '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 and a number of stations have two engines - it is proposed that the first fire engine will be crewed 24/7 with 'on call' staff but the second fire engine is crewed at night. (This includes Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton and Wellington).

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 proposals 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. This is in addition to the current whole time fire stations that will be unaffected during the day - this includes Bridgwater, Taunton, Yeovil, Exeter (Danes Castle), Exeter (Middlemoor), Barnstaple, Torquay, Paignton, Plymouth (Crownhill), Plymouth (Greenbank), Plymouth (Camels Head).

The union has called an emergency meeting next Friday (June 28).

Read the full story here

Fire stations at risk of closure in major shake-up

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