Fire authority member blames Government for cuts

Worcester News: Lives will be put at risk if fire cuts go ahead Lives will be put at risk if fire cuts go ahead

A “GOVERNMENT that doesn’t care” will put Worcester lives on the line if full-time first response fire and rescue cover across the city comes down to a single fire engine.

The claim came from Councillor Richard Udall as Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority met to back unprecedented service cuts - now going out to a 12 week public consultation.

In Worcester the cuts - intended to help the service nearly £5m over three years - could mean losing one of the city station’s two full-time fire engine crews, leaving only a single full-time crew as a first instance response.

Support for the remaining single crew would come from a retained crew who are supposed to reach the station within five minutes, or the nearest crew available to the incident area.

Beyond that, back-up would come from Droitwich or Malvern with other crews scrambled from Upton-upon-Severn, Bromsgrove, and Ledbury – if available.

The cut would cost 22 full-time Worcester firefighters their jobs and save the service £752,450. There would be no reduction of the station’s specialist capabilities like the aerial ladder platform and water rescue vehicle.

Other county fire stations possibly affected include: * Bewdley - station proposed for closure saving up to £111,800 and losing 13 on-call firefighters.

* Broadway - station proposed for closure saving up to £102,500 and losing 13 on-call firefighters.

* Evesham - one on call engine replacing the one day-crewed engine saving £97,000 and losing 18 on-call firefighters.

* Kidderminster - Removing one on-call fire engine leaving a single whole time crew saving £111,100 and losing 15 on-call firefighters.

* Redditch - Removing an on-call engine to leave a whole time engine and an on-call engine saving £55,300 and six on-call firefighter posts.

Coun Udall told the authority that the plan was the most worrying paper he had seen in 18 years as a member.

“It is the first time I’ve seen a paper that is cuts lead not service lead. These are damaging, destructive and risky cuts designed in Downing Street by people who don’t have to live with the consequences,” said Coun Udall.

“We need to act to prevent the impact of these cuts in any way we can against a government that doesn’t care,” he said.

An amendment put by Coun Udall committing the authority to pressuring the county’s MPs to take the funding fight to the Treasury fell at a vote.

The authority was told that chairman Councillor Derek Prodger and Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates were already in such talks with the MPs.

Deputy Chief Officer Richard Lawrence told the authority that the service was not shying away from the impact of the cuts. But the cuts proposed, he said, had the least impact according to analysis.

Within the Worcester station area there are an average 1,423 incidents a year including 136 fires in buildings - 81 of which will be fires in the home - and 81 road traffic collisions (RTCs).

Just over half of these incidents occur between 8am-6pm with crews currently reaching the majority of fires within 10 minutes and the majority of collisions within 15 minutes. Support from the station will go out to 108 building fires a year and around 45 RTCs.

The service concedes that scrambling the on-call engine as proposed would see response times “slightly delayed” against a rise in the number of calls it attended.

Comments (6)

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5:07pm Thu 3 Oct 13

SAVE our fire Station says...

Clearly, response times are only one aspect of what firefighters do. They have taken on a huge range of work over the past 10 years. In terms of community engagement, one thing that needs to be acknowledged is that many of those initiatives come from firefighters themselves on the ground. There are a whole range of projects that have been initiated because firefighters, who know their local communities, have thought, “I know a way of dealing with a particular problem”, and so they have used that knowledge. Nevertheless, an absolutely essential part of the triangle of work that we do— protection, prevention and intervention—is intervention. If you are going to send firefighters to fires, they need to go adequately resourced, adequately trained and they need adequate resources when they get there, i.e. not having to wait and hope for that second appliance to turn up where the incident requires it; otherwise, they cannot deal with the fire or whatever other emergency it is.

There are massive cuts being made in our fire and rescue service. To be very clear: these cuts will put public safety at risk; these cuts will put FireFighter’s safety at risk; they will put lives at risk; and they will mean that homes that could have been saved will be lost, and businesses that could have been saved will be lost.

The Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority cannot keep cutting the service because government keeps cutting the funding to the fire and rescue service and expect us to deliver in the way the public expect. The public do not like seeing fire stations closed and pumps being taken away. They are very sensible not to want to see their fire stations closed or their pumps taken away, because when you close a fire station, it means that when you dial 999 it will take longer for firefighters and fire engines to get to a fire or other emergency. That means that fires will be worse and bigger, and, lives, safety and property will be at risk as a result of that.
Clearly, response times are only one aspect of what firefighters do. They have taken on a huge range of work over the past 10 years. In terms of community engagement, one thing that needs to be acknowledged is that many of those initiatives come from firefighters themselves on the ground. There are a whole range of projects that have been initiated because firefighters, who know their local communities, have thought, “I know a way of dealing with a particular problem”, and so they have used that knowledge. Nevertheless, an absolutely essential part of the triangle of work that we do— protection, prevention and intervention—is intervention. If you are going to send firefighters to fires, they need to go adequately resourced, adequately trained and they need adequate resources when they get there, i.e. not having to wait and hope for that second appliance to turn up where the incident requires it; otherwise, they cannot deal with the fire or whatever other emergency it is. There are massive cuts being made in our fire and rescue service. To be very clear: these cuts will put public safety at risk; these cuts will put FireFighter’s safety at risk; they will put lives at risk; and they will mean that homes that could have been saved will be lost, and businesses that could have been saved will be lost. The Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority cannot keep cutting the service because government keeps cutting the funding to the fire and rescue service and expect us to deliver in the way the public expect. The public do not like seeing fire stations closed and pumps being taken away. They are very sensible not to want to see their fire stations closed or their pumps taken away, because when you close a fire station, it means that when you dial 999 it will take longer for firefighters and fire engines to get to a fire or other emergency. That means that fires will be worse and bigger, and, lives, safety and property will be at risk as a result of that. SAVE our fire Station
  • Score: 5

5:16pm Thu 3 Oct 13

SAVE our fire Station says...

How much Council Tax rebate will the local tax payers of Worcester get for this lesser service delivery instead of wholetime a 24hr immediate turn out of 2 Wholetime fire engines they are being asked to accept 1 wholetime and a wish and prayer if the part time one can turn up..... That means that fires will be worse and bigger, and, lives, safety and property will be at risk as a result of that it will put public safety at risk; these cuts will put Fire Fighter's safety at risk; they will put lives at risk; and they will mean that homes that could have been saved will be lost, and businesses that could have been saved will be lost.
How much Council Tax rebate will the local tax payers of Worcester get for this lesser service delivery instead of wholetime a 24hr immediate turn out of 2 Wholetime fire engines they are being asked to accept 1 wholetime and a wish and prayer if the part time one can turn up..... That means that fires will be worse and bigger, and, lives, safety and property will be at risk as a result of that it will put public safety at risk; these cuts will put Fire Fighter's safety at risk; they will put lives at risk; and they will mean that homes that could have been saved will be lost, and businesses that could have been saved will be lost. SAVE our fire Station
  • Score: 1

8:17pm Thu 3 Oct 13

Piccolo says...

Wonder why the fire authority hasn't been abolished & replaced by an elected fire fighting, rescue & fire prevention commissioner? Bit strange, that, as the government think it such a priority for police & crime purposes. You'd better mind your Ps & Qs, Richard, or you might be out of (or perhaps in??) a job!
Wonder why the fire authority hasn't been abolished & replaced by an elected fire fighting, rescue & fire prevention commissioner? Bit strange, that, as the government think it such a priority for police & crime purposes. You'd better mind your Ps & Qs, Richard, or you might be out of (or perhaps in??) a job! Piccolo
  • Score: -1

12:52pm Fri 4 Oct 13

Hwicce says...

Of course the risks will be higher but it's a case of what we can (or want to) afford.

If you want to reduce the risk then stick a fire station at the end of every street, then response times will be much lower. Unfortunately there is the money to pay for it so we will all have to live with the reposnse times and risk levels that we end up with.

Hopefully when the economy picks up there will be more tax money available and some of it can be spent of the Fire Service (or hospitals, or elderly care, or metal health, or disabilities or all the myriad of thing people think they should have for free without saying where the money comes from).
Of course the risks will be higher but it's a case of what we can (or want to) afford. If you want to reduce the risk then stick a fire station at the end of every street, then response times will be much lower. Unfortunately there is the money to pay for it so we will all have to live with the reposnse times and risk levels that we end up with. Hopefully when the economy picks up there will be more tax money available and some of it can be spent of the Fire Service (or hospitals, or elderly care, or metal health, or disabilities or all the myriad of thing people think they should have for free without saying where the money comes from). Hwicce
  • Score: -1

3:11pm Fri 4 Oct 13

THE FACTS says...

We already have half a dozen engines turning up to rescue a cat from a tree.

I didn't see mention of the cost of pensions. Just check your poll tax bill its nearly half of the fire service budget

Most firemen have a second job. Why is that do you think ?

And we're told its very dangerous to have less ... strikes of scare mongering
We already have half a dozen engines turning up to rescue a cat from a tree. I didn't see mention of the cost of pensions. Just check your poll tax bill its nearly half of the fire service budget Most firemen have a second job. Why is that do you think ? And we're told its very dangerous to have less ... strikes of scare mongering THE FACTS
  • Score: 0

9:13pm Sat 5 Oct 13

SlipperyWhenWet says...

'The Facts' is a moron.
Your Council Tax precept is less than £100 per household per year for 24/7 emergency service cover. The total Fire Service Budget for Hereford and Worcester comprises approximately two thirds of this local Government funding. Council Tax (and therefore Local Government funding) has been frozen for several years whilst the Central Government grant has reduced, in effect a budget cut at National Government level combined with a devaluing of the Local Government funding against rising proces and costs - this means cuts HAVE to be made from somewhere. For the past few years the required savings have been from 'back-office functions' to avoid affecting front line services; in the face of £4.7m of extra cuts and no increase in central or local government funding further cuts within the Service have got to be achieved, cuts to front line services are now inevitable. If the public wish to have a say they can do so NOW via the consultation process - see the fire service website or links!
The current industrial dispute regarding pensions and general terms and conditions is in no way related to the CRMP and proposed local cuts. The pensions budget is entirely separate from the £30m or so operating budget. Your Council Tax precept to the Fire Service does not contribute in any way to fire service pensions.
Public services are being hit from all angles currently, the Fire Service is no different in this respect. The fact that local services are being negatively affected in this way by budget restrictions set at National level is of huge concern to the Fire Service personnel providing the emergency cover and should be of huge concern to the local populus.
You DO NOT have half a dozen appliances turning out for a cat in a tree; each incident type has a 'pre-determined attendance' based on risk. An 'animal rescue' has this, but a cat in a tree incident is generally instigated by the RSPCA as it is not a core Fire Service function as such.
Those that choose to work second jobs do so IN ADDITION to the 48 hours worked over the course of 4 days per week that they provide full time fire cover. I imagine 48 hours is more than or equal to most other people's 5 day weeks; how many 5 day workers then choose to work on their days off? - not many I imagine, but that's down to personal choice. Firefighters should not be castigated for using their off duty days however they see fit! This does not factor-in the Retained Firefighters also affected by these proposed cuts; they all work full time AND provide on-call fire cover! (This would make the Fire Service their second job - how dare they have a second job!).
So 'The Facts', try checking the actual facts before posting your comments!
'The Facts' is a moron. Your Council Tax precept is less than £100 per household per year for 24/7 emergency service cover. The total Fire Service Budget for Hereford and Worcester comprises approximately two thirds of this local Government funding. Council Tax (and therefore Local Government funding) has been frozen for several years whilst the Central Government grant has reduced, in effect a budget cut at National Government level combined with a devaluing of the Local Government funding against rising proces and costs - this means cuts HAVE to be made from somewhere. For the past few years the required savings have been from 'back-office functions' to avoid affecting front line services; in the face of £4.7m of extra cuts and no increase in central or local government funding further cuts within the Service have got to be achieved, cuts to front line services are now inevitable. If the public wish to have a say they can do so NOW via the consultation process - see the fire service website or links! The current industrial dispute regarding pensions and general terms and conditions is in no way related to the CRMP and proposed local cuts. The pensions budget is entirely separate from the £30m or so operating budget. Your Council Tax precept to the Fire Service does not contribute in any way to fire service pensions. Public services are being hit from all angles currently, the Fire Service is no different in this respect. The fact that local services are being negatively affected in this way by budget restrictions set at National level is of huge concern to the Fire Service personnel providing the emergency cover and should be of huge concern to the local populus. You DO NOT have half a dozen appliances turning out for a cat in a tree; each incident type has a 'pre-determined attendance' based on risk. An 'animal rescue' has this, but a cat in a tree incident is generally instigated by the RSPCA as it is not a core Fire Service function as such. Those that choose to work second jobs do so IN ADDITION to the 48 hours worked over the course of 4 days per week that they provide full time fire cover. I imagine 48 hours is more than or equal to most other people's 5 day weeks; how many 5 day workers then choose to work on their days off? - not many I imagine, but that's down to personal choice. Firefighters should not be castigated for using their off duty days however they see fit! This does not factor-in the Retained Firefighters also affected by these proposed cuts; they all work full time AND provide on-call fire cover! (This would make the Fire Service their second job - how dare they have a second job!). So 'The Facts', try checking the actual facts before posting your comments! SlipperyWhenWet
  • Score: 1

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