A FORMER Evesham firefighter has claimed proposals by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service to change the current fire cover arrangements in the town and surrounding areas could mean delays in crews attending blazes.
Local resident Rich Blake spoke out against plans which would see the town’s fire station staffed by on-call or retained firefighters from 6pm to 8am every night, proposals which he believes will reduce fire cover in Evesham.
“I believe they will leave residents of Evesham and the surrounding areas at greater risk with fire and rescue incidents due to the fact neither of the two fire appliances at Evesham will be guaranteed from 6pm to 8am,” he said.
“Not only will the fire appliance not be guaranteed but neither will the boat at Evesham as none of the retained are trained in its use. The rescue boat has been used extensively during times of flood in Evesham and the surrounding areas, also my more widely in other parts of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and surrounding counties.”
According to Mr Blake, the next guaranteed fire appliance is 16 miles away, while all other stations in the town are crewed by retained firefighters.
“The residents of Evesham could be waiting 30 minutes plus for an appliance to attend a house fire if these proposals go ahead,” he said.
In response, a Hereford and Worcester Fire Service spokesperson said: “The Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2014-2020 states that Evesham is one of the three fire stations within Hereford and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service that is permanently crewed during the day, and by on-call firefighters during the night; these are known as day crewed fire stations.”
“Under the proposed cover, both wholetime and on-call staff will respond to the station as one combined unit to deal with any emergency.
“This model combines both crews to provide greater resilience, with staff responding to crew both appliances at Evesham. Therefore there is no reduction to the fire cover, nor to the skills currently available, including the rescue boats.”
“In addition to the availability of on-call firefighters, the current day crewed system at Evesham Fire Station requires wholetime staff to volunteer to be available for night-time cover, but this is no longer sustainable due to Working Time Regulations.
“Currently the service is consulting with the crews and other bodies at Evesham with a proposal to increase the number of staff available to respond to the station, when the service receives an emergency call.”