Fire brigades union calls on authority to reject service cuts

Fire engine

Fire engine - Credit: Archant

The Fire Brigades Union will today call on the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority to reject the proposed cuts to the region’s fire service.

The authority is due to debate the proposals today (Friday, January 10) and decide whether to take them forward.

The changes include closing Budleigh Salterton and Topsham fire stations, removing eight fire engines, and sending some appliances out to incidents with fewer than the recommended number of four firefighters.

The plans were revised in the light of the response to a public consultation last year, which included a 43,000-signature petition opposing the original proposal to close eight fire stations.

Colyton fire station, one of those originally earmarked for closure, is now being recommended to remain open, although it will be monitored.

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The set of proposals being put forward today will take lesser-used fire appliances out of operation, and introduce a more flexible on-call duty system. This includes relaxing the rule on having fire engines crewed with no fewer than four firefighters, if this is necessary to make the appliance available.

The organiser of Devon and Somerset Fire Brigades Union, James Leslie, will address today's meeting.

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He will say: "We're pleased to see that the service has paid some attention to public opinion.

"However, although the new proposals are a marked improvement on the initial plans, there is still much to be concerned by.

"We welcome the commitment to achieving the initial response standard of the first fire engine arriving at an incident within 10 minutes on 75% of occasions, but this must be for a fully crewed fire engine.

"The service should also commit to reach its full attendance standard of nine firefighters at an incident in 13 minutes, which the service are still refusing to report on.

"We support the service's plans for more prevention and protection work, but this should not be at the expense of front-line services.

"The consultation made it clear that the public do not support any cuts to front-line services. The fire authority stated that the public consultation was not a tick box exercise and, in the light of such an overwhelmingly negative response, we demand that they reject the recommendations as they stand."

The fire authority will meet to discuss the proposals at the service headquarters at Clyst St George at 10.00 this morning.

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