East Devon MP wades in on fire consultation proposals

PUBLISHED: 18:48 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 07:37 25 July 2019

East Devon MP, Sir Hugo Swire. Picture: Wikimedia.

East Devon MP, Sir Hugo Swire. Picture: Wikimedia.

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East Devon's MP has called for no reduction in coverage to fire services in the district.

Sir Hugo Swire has spoken out as a 12-week consultation into changes to the service is under way.

He has spoken with Lee Howell, chief of Devon and Somerset Fire Rescue Service, about the 'integral' part the service plays in dealing with road traffic accidents. He has called for no reduced coverage or drop in response times if East Devon stations do close.

Devon and Somerset Fire Service have put six options on the table, all of which involve station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe. Most options also involve a reduction in cover at other stations.

Sir Hugo said: "Mr Howell stressed that his service wants to continue with its more proactive prevention work to keep bringing the number of incidents down.

"The number of call outs for the fire service has reduced over time.

"Tougher furniture regulations and lifestyle changes mean that fires nationally have fallen by 33 per cent over the past 10 years.

"It is my view that we must ensure no reduction in coverage or incident response times from these changes. The fire service plays an integral role in many serious road traffic accidents.

"I therefore encourage you to please take part in the consultation to have your say.

"I am awaiting a reply from Mr Howell after I requested further clarification that there would be no reduction in coverage and incident response times were the closure of Topsham and Budleigh Salterton stations to go ahead."

Visit the service's website to respond to the consultation.

What are the options?

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.

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