Proposals to 'downgrade' fire cover in Evesham ‘will set us back 30 years’ - The Evesham Observer

Proposals to 'downgrade' fire cover in Evesham ‘will set us back 30 years’

Evesham Editorial 31st Mar, 2017   0

MAJOR proposals to revamp the county’s fire service will set Evesham’s fire crews back by 30 years, a leading union official has claimed.

Steven Gould, Fire Brigade Union (FBU) secretary for Hereford and Worcester and Operational Crew Commander in Evesham also claimed the proposals would see fire cover downgraded in the town.

Under the proposals, which are in the early stages of development, the town’s station would only be manned by full time firefighters from 8.40am until 6pm Monday to Friday.

At the weekends and in the evenings, on-call firefighters would be on stand-by from home as part of a range of proposals to enable Hereford and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service to save £800,000

Mr Gould is now mounting a campaign to prevent fire chiefs from implementing their proposals to change fire cover at evenings and weekends in Evesham.

He decided to speak out after the fire service released a statement on Monday (March 27) announcing they are reversing their decision to cut crew numbers from five to four.

Whilst he welcomed the decision, Mr Gould has accused fire chiefs of not telling the public the ‘complete story.’

“Nowhere in this statement does it say it will be downgrading fire cover in Malvern and Evesham to create 5’s,” he said.

“Whilst the FBU applaud 5’s on fire appliances, we believe it is totally unacceptable to downgrade fire cover at both Malvern and Evesham.

“Currently both of these stations are Day Crewing which provide 24/7, 365 days a year fire cover.

“The FBU believe the service is making these massive changes merely because they can. As we have been informed during watch visits, these changes are not finance-driven.

“Also, bearing in mind the service is sitting on £7million in Revenue Budget Reserves which it refuses to use to support an appropriate level of fire cover throughout Hereford and Worcester.”

Currently, cover in the evenings is two appliances at a five-minute response which would remain the same.

However, both crews would be made up of on-call firefighters, rather than one appliance being manned by full-time fighters as is the case at the moment.

And at the weekends, day cover is currently one appliance manned by full-time firefighters and the second appliance is on-call.

Under the proposals, this would change to part-time firefighters crewing the appliance at the station.

In response, a Hereford and Worcester Fire Service spokesperson said: “The proposal will enable the first whole-time fire engine at each station to have a crew of five, whilst making the significant savings required to achieve a balanced budget and is part of a wider set of proposals to crew with five on the other whole-time fire engines across the service.

“Crewing is currently shared between on-call and whole-time firefighters to supply a range of skills, all firefighters have extensive training to a high standard.”

To sign the petition against these proposals click here.


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