Monday, March 07, 2011

No reduction in fire appliance crewing - as Fire Chief goes back to the drawing board

As one of the Conservative Councillors who vehemently opposed the downsizing of provision at the Goole Fire Station in July 2008, it will come as little surprise that I strongly opposed the general thrust of the proposals to reduce spending by some £7million being put forward by the Humberside Fire Chief to the Humberside Fire Authority members who met this past week.

(picture with David Davis MP on a visit to Goole Fire Station)

The Chief’s plan for the reduction of Fire Appliance crewing down from 5 fire-fighters down to 4 was most contentious - and in this respect I am grateful that the Fire Authority members have listened to what many people said as part of the consultation process, and rejected this key proposal.

Unfortunately my other major concern for changing of the crewing arrangements for specialist appliances attending road traffic collisions, was approved by the Fire Authority members.

But I can accept the proposals for changes to the Command Unit crewing and technical rescue fire station crewing arrangements, and also changes to the Operational Command to give a more flexible duty system.

Fire Chief Frank Duffield is quoted as saying “We have to look at all of the options; I am disappointed the members have chosen to reject some, but I understand they are responding to the consultation. The authority has now tasked me with finding that shortfall, so we will be going back to the drawing board and come up with further suggestions.”

The Government has made it clear that the cuts in public spending following the Comprehensive Spending Review should not, where possible, reduce front line services but rather that savings should be made through further partnership working, cutting back office support, curbing excessive spending and eradicating economic wastage.

“When the Fire Chief goes back to the drawing board I would suggest that instead of looking at cuts to front line services, more emphasis should be given to reducing non-operational officers and by exploring local partnership arrangements with other public services. I hope that lessons are learnt from the scrapping of the plans for a Regional Call Centre in West Yorkshire that the Fire and Rescue Service does not go down the regionalisation route to look for further savings. I believe it is essential that Humberside Fire and Rescue Service look at improved localised partnership working as a driver to cut costs, as stated in their own Strategic Plan.”

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