Seven fire engines will be cut and 45 on-call firefighters posts axed across Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

The fire authority for the two counties today (Wednesday, June 26) approved plans first set out in a resource review last December.

Speaking at a meeting at Wyre Forest Council Chamber, chief fire officer Jon Pryce said an eight-week public consultation had shown that although some people were not comfortable with the proposals, “there are no real alternatives”.

DECISION: The authority met at Wyre Forest District Council's offices to decide on the plansDECISION: The authority met at Wyre Forest District Council's offices to decide on the plans (Image: Phil Wilkinson-Jones/LDRS)

“There is an acceptance we do need to change,” he said. “The on-call system is getting harder. Carrying on as we are is not a viable option.

“84 percent of everything we do only requires one fire engine.”

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service stressed most of the posts would go as a result of natural turnover and 18 full time roles would be created with the savings made.

Fire engines are being cut at Worcester, Droitwich, Wyre Forest, Redditch, Hereford, Bromyard and Leominster Stations, while another engine at Wyre Forest Station will be crewed at night-time only.

Following the consultation, Malvern will keep both its fire engines - for the next two years at least.

READ MORE: Union slams proposed cuts to fire service

Cllr Tom Wells said he was “pleased to see the retaining of the second fire engine at Malvern” and fire authority members agreed to hold further public consultation should plans to remove either of Malvern’s fire engines come back in the future.

Cllr Richard Udall said the authority should hold a “review of the entire resource changes in two years’ time”, adding: “It’s important to check and measure the consequences of these changes. Let’s never be afraid to admit if we’ve made a mistake.”

Mr Pryce responded: “If any of this doesn’t work, let’s put some resources back into that. This shouldn’t be a one-off thing every 20 years.”

Cllr Roger Phillips said: “It’s not about cutting £900,000 - it’s about changing the way we use that £900,000.

“It’s quite emotive when you say we’re cutting seven fire engines but often there’s no-one there to use those engines and we have to be careful about how we use taxpayers’ money.”

Cllr Dan Boatright-Greene said the proposals had been “very difficult to get people on side with” and raised concerns about cutting fire engines when a new town would soon be built on the outskirts of Worcester.

Neil Bevan, brigade secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, said: “There was no mention in the meeting of redundancies.

“There’s also been a lot of discussion about what an on-call firefighter is - they can work anything from a 40-hour to a 120-hour week.”

Mr Bevan added: “The consultation documents changed several times during the consultation period so how can you compare responses?

“They got the opinions of 0.14 percent of the local population. That’s not what I’d call a robust consultation.”

A spokesman for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: “‘While the Resource Review indicates that 45 fewer on-call posts overall will be required, the vast majority of those posts will disappear with natural turnover.

“At the same time, 18 new wholetime firefighter roles will be created so any money saved from the reduction in vehicle and on-call costs will be reinvested.

“It is anticipated that a small number of staff will be offered alternative options such as redeployment, with a handful of staff having to be made redundant after a full engagement process.”