Proposed fire service changes could result in reduced cover

Worksop Fire Station, Eastgate
Worksop Fire Station, Eastgate

Your views are wanted on how the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service can make savings between now and 2020, which could result in reduced cover and increased response times.

The consultation, which was proposed by Chief Fire Officer John Buckley, asks residents to give their thoughts on the introduction of two new crewing systems.

John said: “Mixed Crewing could potentially be introduced at two out of three different fire stations – Ashfield, Retford or Worksop – offering us a saving of £500,000 per year, per station.

“This would see the chosen stations being crewed by retained staff only at night, as opposed to both wholetime and retained as they are currently. This option wouldn’t involve any redundancies and would still see the respective stations continue to have two fire engines that are crewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Alternative Crewing, on the other hand, could be introduced at on-call stations all across Nottinghamshire. It would involve retained appliances, that are currently only mobilised when four firefighters are available, being sent out with a crew of three to a small number of minor incident types.

“This option wouldn’t save money, but would increase our appliance availability and increase the retention of our on-call staff, who are a massively important part of the Service.”

Bassetlaw MP, John Mann, said: “This is a direct result of the Government’s austerity agenda. I am appalled by the Combined Fire Authority’s decision to cut staff cover at Retford and Worksop Fire stations which will mean an inferior service for local people.

“I believe lives will be lost because of these changes. Proposing to sack half of the fulltime firefighters in Retford and Worksop fire station and to replace them with retained part time firefighters will see lives being put at risk.”

John Mann says the proposed system of mixed and alternative crewing will result in less expertise on night call outs and a significant increase in the amount of time it takes for firefighters to reach a fire. He said the retained firefighters have less training and therefore cannot operate at height or use the protective gear in order to deal with chemical spills.

Mr Mann added: “I am shocked that the Chief Fire Officer is comfortable with this decision. All these cuts will do is put more pressure on the remaining full time firefighters and mean that some incidents in Retford and Worksop will not receive a proper response.

“Cost cutting through axing frontline firefighters is the worst possible solution. There are alternatives to this, more can be done for our emergency services to collaborate behind the scenes with the police and ambulance service. “Sadly my proposals on this have been repeatedly ignored. I am writing to the Chief Fire Office yet again proposing one single police, fire and ambulance station in Worksop in order to save money.

“I do not believe that most people would object to an increase in the fire service precept if the alternative is a less effective fire service.

“The Chief Fire Officer should join me in calling for increased resources for Bassetlaw’s fire service. Up to this point he has been very quiet on this front. We need our fire services to be top quality day and night, we cannot expect fires to respect working hours.”

Consultation will run for 12 weeks and conclude in December to enable reports on the outcomes and options to be presented to the Fire Authority in February 2018.

Residents can give their views on the proposals by visiting www.notts-fire.gov.uk where they will be given a link to the consultation survey page.