PLANS to remove full-time overnight fire crews in Droitwich are in response to an EU court ruling and will not affect the number of available engines, claim the fire service.

A Droitwich Fire Station employee, who did not wish to be named, said the changes will be “detrimental to community safety” and are simply a bid to save money.

A spokesman for Hereford & Worcester Fire Service said, rather the changes “need to be implemented” to ensure compliance with the Matzak ruling while maintaining “the levels of emergency cover”.

Since 2014, the station has been crewed with one immediately available engine and one on-call engine between 8am and 6pm, and by two on-call engines between 6pm and 8am.

Full-time firefighters work the Day Crewing System on-duty from the station or on-call – four days and nights on and four days and nights off.

While the second support engine is manned by the Retained Duty System on-call crew.

However, from March 1, it is no longer possible to contractually require full-time personnel working the day to undertake rostered night-time retained duties in addition to their current daily shifts.

The night-time element of their contract will be deemed as being voluntary, because the individuals have a right not to sign the WTR 48-hour opt-out clause.

“This will mean that at night, instead of having a separate Day Crewing System on-call appliance and retained on-call appliance, there will be two on-call appliances – the same as Bromyard, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye and Redditch,” said the spokesman.

“This will not affect the number of available fire appliances, or the time they will take to reach incidents.

“Both of these will remain as they are now – in fact, on-call personnel have already been successfully supporting the crewing of both appliances at night for the past six months.”

However, the anonymous staff member said the retained personnel are never guaranteed because they are only part-time and work around other commitments.

“Currently, fire engine one is guaranteed at night but after these proposed changes are made neither fire engine one or fire engine two is guaranteed at night from Droitwich Fire Station.”

They said the RDS at Droitwich is understaffed by approximately six firefighters and the second engine is currently only available, in most cases, by giving “more availability than they are contracted and paid for”.

“Due to changing social demographics it is increasingly difficult to recruit and, more importantly, keep RDS firefighters,” he continued.

“To quote the chief fire officer of Suffolk recently: ‘The RDS is a 1950s system operating in 2018.’”

They said there was a recent house fire in The Westlands estate, and engine two due there being not enough crew, so an engine was sent from Worcester creating a delay in firefighting actions and reducing fire engines available in Worcester.