By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 27 September 2013 Updated: 30/09 15:57
ATTEMPTS to plug a £4.7m million budget gap could see Redditch Fire Station lose an on-call crew.
Getting rid of one of the two on-call engines at the Birmingham Road fire station is one of the proposals mooted by the fire service as part of a money-saving plan.
The move, which would see six on-call firefighters lose their jobs, would save £55,300 a year from 2014/15 and would reduce cover to one full-time and one on-call engine.
Hereford and Worcester stations would both each lose a full-time crew, at a saving of £767,650 each, with 44 job losses across both cities.
It is anticipated the first engine on the scene would reach just one building fire later each year and would arrive no later at road traffic collisions than currently. Support from a second engine would be later at one in 40 building fires each year.
A second proposal would see one on-call engine removed from Bromyard, Ledbury and Tenbury Wells while a third would see Bewdley and Broadway close, with further closures or removal of engines across the border in Herefordshire.
Julian Jenkins, chair of Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigades Union, said the effect on the whole service would be ‘quite profound’ adding places like Broadway and Evesham often relied on back-up from Redditch when there was a large-scale incident.
“Any large fires when the proposals kick in would mean engines are going to be fewer and further between. People will have to wait longer and fire crews attending a fire could have to wait longer for back up which could be extremely dangerous.
“It’s not necessarily the fault of the chief fire officer who is given a budget he has to work within but the fault of central Government who are slashing public services including the fire service, police and ambulance which is putting people’s lives in danger.
“We are very concerned about crewing levels, they are already running generally at every fire station with the minimum amount of firefighters on duty at any time so that back up isn’t there anymore. Spreading the resources very thinly across both counties means something’s got to give at some point.”
The Community Risk Management Plan will now be reviewed by the Fire Authority on Thursday (October 3) and, if approved, will then go out for consultation for 12 weeks with the final decision likely to be made in February 2014.
Chief fire officer Mark Yates said over the past three years savings had been made on back-office functions and management structures.
“But to address overall savings of £4.7m we now have to look at our frontline. It appears to be inevitable that over the coming years we will have fewer fire engines and firefighters but we believe the proposals contained in the CRMP will have the least impact on the communities of our two counties and the safety of our firefighters.
“I accept that no one, including myself, would wish to reduce the amount of fire engines available to respond to our communities but with the significant size of budget gap being faced, I believe the FRA may now have no choice.”
MP Karen Lumley said: “I’ve met with the chief fire officer who assured me that Redditch can still operate effectively under these proposals. I will also be looking to meet with staff very soon and meet with the chief fire officer again to allay any concerns over these plans.”
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