By Tristan Harris 07/06 Updated: 15/06 00:53
CONTROVERSIAL plans which will see the number of firefighters at Bromsgrove Fire Station slashed by half - from 28 to 14 - have been given the go ahead.
The proposal for the new crewing system, after a review into the service, was rubber-stamped at a meeting of the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority's Policy and Resoueces Committee today (Thursday).
The report claimed Bromsgrove 'provided an opportunity for the new crewing system due to its low overall levels of call activity'.
The 'Day Crewing Plus' (DCP) system would see changes to night cover - that would be provided by using rooms at the station for staff members to stay in while they were on duty, rather than them needing to live near the station.
The report claimed it would mean the response would be immediate at whatever time of day or night.
Figures released in the report stated the current system costs £1,074,000, but, with DCP, and, even including a 20 per cent remuneration increase for the staff which remained, that amount could be reduced by £415,000 to £659,000.
But the decision has been slammed by the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU), which claims it is wrong to cut Bromsgrove's watches from four of seven to two.
Steve Gould, the chair of Hereford and Worcester FBU, said: "We are going to have very exhausted firefighters, which I believe will affect their performance.
"You will still have the same number of firefighters to each fire engine, but you will have half the workforce, doing double the work."
And he added that, although other shift patterns were being looked at, if it remained as it is now - with four days on and four days off, that could have a detrimental effect on the firefighters' lives.
"They will be spending 96 hours at a time in the station and away from their families and that is not good."
But Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates defended the cuts and claimed the public would see no changes in the service they received.
He said, as part of the Government's austerity measures, all public sector organisations, including Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, were striving to provide the same level of service whilst becoming more financially efficient.
He said the Fire Authority freezing the service's council tax charge for the second year running in February meant substantial savings had to be made to 'balance the books'.
He added there would always be enough firefighters on duty at any one time to respond to incidents, with the same number of fire engines.
“The proposals that were discussed at the Policy and Resources Committee will not in any way affect our emergency response.
"These proposals are about delivering the same service but costing less to the public purse.
"The reduction in the amount of firefighters will be achieved through natural wastage so there will not be a need for redundancies,” he said,
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