Devon and Somerset Fire Authority to decide on proposals to meet Government grant cut of £8m by 2015 – 020713 1750z

 

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority members will consider a consultation report and vote on proposals to meet a significant Government grant reduction, on 10 July at the Service Headquarters in Exeter.

The Service is looking atmanaging significant on-going budget cuts, now anticipated to be around 8m by 2015, following the Spending Review announcement last week.

 

Proposals aimed at providing an affordable and effective service, without removing fire stations, fire engines or making compulsory redundancies, were developed for public consultation earlier this year. The consultation closed in April.

 

Proposals included:

 

Increasing the Services work in the community to prevent fires
Changing the way some fire engines are crewed, by providing 24 hour emergency response with on- call Firefighters

 

The Service is also reducing support staff numbers and this year alone plans to reduce numbers by around 40 posts (13% of the total) through a combination of deleting vacancies, ending some fixed term contracts and voluntary redundancy.

 

In addition, senior posts have also been reduced. From 2010, the Chief Fire Officer has reduced the Senior Management Board from nine Directors to four.

 

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said:

 

The savings we need to make are significant, and following the Spending Review announcement last week and Sir Ken Knights review of efficiencies in Fire and Rescue Services, we are clearer about the level of further reductions in the near future. We have made savings already by looking at how we do things more efficiently as an organisation. We dont have the option of staying as we are – we need to make changes in order to maintain a sustainable and effective service to the community.

 

The proposals being considered do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or at this stage compulsory redundancies. We do however need to live within our means and whilst I would rather not be taking out this amount of money from the Service, in reality we dont have any control over the funding allocated to us by Government. I, and the Chairman, will continue to lobby Government to ensure a fairer settlement for the future but we have to face the reality of today.

 

The meeting will be held on the 10 July 2013 from 10.00am at the Service Headquarters in Clyst St. George, Exeter, and is open to the press and public. The meeting agenda and papers, including the consultation report, can be found on the website; www.dsfire.gov.uk.

 

Additional information

 

Link to the agenda papers:

 

http://www.dsfire.gov.uk/FireAuthority/CalendarOfMeetings/documents/DSFRA10July13Agendaandpapers.pdf

 

Proposals in brief:

 

The proposed changes are:

 

Proposal 1

 

Extend the roll out of light rescue pumps which was consulted on, and agreed, last year. These vehicles reduce cost and improve performance.

 

Proposal 2

 

Implement the changes in how we will respond to automatic fire alarms (98% of which are false alarms) so that we only respond to high risk buildings automatically. This was consulted on and received public support last year. We now plan to further implement this change.

 

Proposal 3

 

Mobilise one co-responder directly from home/work rather than mobilise a crew and fire engine from a station. This will improve attendance times, save more lives and reduce costs.

 

Proposal 4

 

Reduce the number of middle/senior managers. As a result of our business changes, we will be able to reduce officer numbers without compromising performance.

 

Proposal 5

 

Invest more time and money in additional prevention activity in 2013. Our analysis shows that for every 145,000 spent on targeted prevention activity, we significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire death. This will directly support our targeted approach and make people safer.

 

Proposal 6

 

Change the crewing of three fire engines in Plymouth to on call rather than whole time:
Plympton and Plymstock fire engines to become ‘on call’
Camelshead keeps one fire engine crewed by wholetime firefighters but one pump is moved to Crownhill.
Crownhill receives the fire engine moved from Camelshead and will have two fire engines, one crewed by wholetime and one crewed by on call firefighters
All On call cover is 24 cover. There will still be seven front line fire engines in Plymouth. Response times are largely unaffected and may be further improved by the introduction of additional light rescue pumps.

 

Proposal 7

 

Crew the aerial appliance at Crownhill with on call staff. No other aerial ladder platform is permanently crewed so this harmonises Plymouth with the arrangements elsewhere within the Service.

 

Proposal 8

 

Cancel the pilot scheme at Yeovil fire station where an additional four firefighters are provided for non-operational activity (this standardises crewing so that Yeovil is crewed the same as other similar fire stations).

 

Proposal 9

 

Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Taunton from wholetime to on call. Many firefighters already operate as on call firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.

 

Proposal 10

 

Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Torquay from wholetime to on call. Many firefighters already operate as on call firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.

 

Proposal 11

 

Change the crewing arrangements of the fire engine at Ilfracombe from day crewed (wholetime, day-time only) to on call.

 

In addition, the Service will:

 

Reduce support staff by at least 5% by not renewing some fixed term contracts
Save more than 1m through greater efficiencies in our back office support functions, improving procurement and how we manage our spending.

 

 

BBC News Report:

Devon and Somerset Fire Service facing 5m budget cuts

Reducing the number of fire engines and closing stations would be a last resort, a source has said

Devon and Somerset Fire Service is facing millions of pounds of budget cuts, according to a leaked document.

DevonAerial Ladder Platform DSFRS Source (Photo: sam mitchell, wikipedia)

The internal email was written by Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell.

Referring to a cut in the government grant settlement for 2013/14 and 2014/15, Mr Howell said the service will have to save 5.5m.

The service has declined to comment, but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) fears stations may close and the number of fire engines could be reduced.

Under the proposals three Plymouth fire engines, at Plympton, Plymstock, and Camels Head, would be crewed on call rather than full-time.

The citys aerial ladder platform would also be crewed on an on-call basis.

Ilfracombes fire station faces being cut from day-crewed to on call.

Torquays second fire engine would also be cut from full time to on call, as would the second fire engine in Taunton.

The proposals are going out to public consultation before a decision in February.

Politically difficult
The email, obtained by the BBC, outlines how the money the service receives from the government will be reduced by 10.3% in 2013/14 and by a further 7.3% in 2014/15.

This means that we will need to save 3.4m in the next financial year and 2.1m in the following year, Mr Howells email said.

It does not outline how the savings will be found, but the BBC understands managers are working on a series of proposals.

The FBU said it feared services would inevitably suffer and has promised to fight the cuts.

A senior source at Devon and Somerset Fire Service said everything had to be on the agenda when it was facing such a difficult financial situation.

However, it would be a last resort to close fire stations and cut the number of fire engines.

That would be extremely unpopular with the public, and politically very difficult to deal with, managers told the BBC, adding nothing would be implemented which could in any way endanger public safety.

Devon and Somerset Fire Authority will decide how it believes the savings should be made at its meeting on Friday 18th January and a 12-week public consultation will follow. (below)

By Simon Hall

BBC South West Home Affairs Correspondent

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Press Release 18 Jan 2013:

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority members have agreed a range of proposals to save 5.5 million which will now go to public consultation.

The Service�s Government grant has been reduced by 10.3% in 2013 and a further 7.3% in 2014, which means the Service will lose 3.4m in the next financial year and a further 2.1m the following year.

Cllr Mark Healey, Chairman of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, said �The Chief Fire Officer and I have lobbied Government and will continue to do so to ensure we get a better Grant settlement next time. In addition, we have specifically asked for a meeting with the Minister to outline our concerns.

�We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still will need to save 5.5m. Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.�

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: �These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made. The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.

�We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money�.

The consultation period will start on 28 January 2013 and end on 22 April 2013.

Additional information

The proposed changes are:

Proposal 1

Extend the roll out of light rescue pumps which was consulted on, and agreed, last year. These vehicles reduce cost and improve performance.

Proposal 2

Implement the changes in how we will respond to automatic fire alarms (98% of which are false alarms) so that we only respond to high risk buildings automatically. This was consulted on and received public support last year. We now plan to further implement this change.

Proposal 3

Mobilise one co-responder directly from home/work rather than mobilise a crew and fire engine from a station. This will improve attendance times, save more lives and reduce costs.

Proposal 4

Reduce the number of middle/senior managers. As a result of our business changes, we will be able to reduce officer numbers without compromising performance.

Proposal 5

Invest more time and money in additional prevention activity in 2013. Our analysis shows that for every 145,000 spent on targeted prevention activity, we significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire death. This will directly support our targeted approach and make people safer.

Proposal 6

Change the crewing of three fire engines in Plymouth to �on call� rather than whole time:
� Plympton and Plymstock fire engines to become on call
� Camelshead keeps one fire engine crewed by wholetime firefighters but one pump is moved to Crownhill.
� Crownhill receives the fire engine moved from Camelshead and will have two fire engines, one crewed by wholetime and one crewed by on call firefighters

There will still be seven front line fire engines in Plymouth. Response times are largely unaffected and may be further improved by the introduction of additional light rescue pumps.

Proposal 7

Crew the aerial appliance at Crownhill with �on call� staff. No other aerial ladder platform is permanently crewed so this harmonises Plymouth with the arrangements elsewhere within the Service.

Proposal 8

Cancel the pilot scheme at Yeovil fire station where an additional four firefighters are provided for non-operational activity (this standardises crewing so that Yeovil is crewed the same as other similar fire stations).

Proposal 9

Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Taunton from wholetime to �on call�.� Many firefighters already operate as �on call� firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.

Proposal 10

Change the crewing arrangements of the second fire appliances at Torquay from wholetime to �on call�.� Many firefighters already operate as �on call� firefighters on these stations. The same number of fire engines will remain available and will be crewed as and when needed and during busy times.

Proposal 11

Change the crewing arrangements of the fire engine at Ilfracombe from day crewed (wholetime, day-time only) to �on call�.

In addition, the Service will:

Reduce support staff by at least 5% by not renewing some fixed term contracts

Save more than 1m through greater efficiencies in our back office support functions, improving procurement and how we manage our spending.

Meanwhile, FBU is urging the public in Devon and Somerset to protest against the most savage cuts ever to their local fire and rescue service.

The government has reduced its grant to the Devon and Somerset fire and rescue service by 10.3% for the year 2013/14 and 7.3% for the year 2014/15. This means a loss of 3.4m in the next financial year and 2.1m the following, cuts three times more savage than any ever imposed on the service before, by any previous government, and gives the lie to Minister Eric Pickles� claim that the fire and rescue service is somehow being protected.

On January 18th, the fire authority and fire service senior managers will put forward proposals for public consultation, to include a set of cuts that would see fire appliances removed from local communities.

Devon and Somerset FBU secretary Trevor French said: �Rather than just accept these enormous cuts forced upon us by central government, the fire authority along with chief fire officer Lee Howell should tell the coalition government that this scale of cuts is unacceptable, risks destroying the fabric of this important service, and ultimately puts more lives at risk.�

As a rural service and one of the biggest in the country, Devon and Somerset have long argued that a �sparsity� factor should be included in any grant settlement received. This would take into account the lack of neighbouring services for support and the sheer scale of area that has to be covered by one fire and rescue service.

FBU brigade chair Bob Walker said: �If the cuts proposed go through, there will be fewer firefighters, fewer fire stations and fewer fire engines. After the recent floods and fires firefighters have dealt with so professionally, the cuts would be a real kick in the teeth for both the public and the service. The FBU is asking people in our communities to stand up against damaging proposals for the fire and rescue service before it is too late.�

About Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (Wikipedia)

BBC News Report

18 January 2013 Last updated at 17:14

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue faces 5.5m budget cut

Proposals aiming to save the fire service 5.5m have been approved by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority.

Eleven measures needed to cut costs were passed at a meeting earlier in response to a drop in funding from central government.

The package will now be subject to a 12-week public consultation.

These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made, said chief fire officer Lee Howell.

Sense of angerThe proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.

We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently.

But Tam McFarlane, from the Fire Brigades Union, said there was a very real sense of anger among members over the decision.

Rather than just accepting enormous budget cuts the fire authority should be telling the government that they are totally unacceptable, he said.

It was only a few weeks ago that firefighters were working day and night performing rescues during the biggest floods in living memory.

It should have been obvious then that we were stretched to the limit but now, just a few weeks later we are facing massive frontline cuts.

Closures not wantedCost-cutting measures include implementing changes in how the service responds to automatic fire alarms, reducing the number of middle/senior managers and reducing support staff by at least 5% by not renewing some fixed-term contracts.

Conservative councillor Mark Healey, authority chairman, said he will lobby government to get a better grant settlement next time.

We will now be keen to listen to staff and the public but whatever the outcome of the consultation, we still will need to save 5.5m, he said.

Closing fire stations is not where we want to be.

The authority has said its government grant has been reduced by 10.3% in 2013 and will fall a further 7.3% in 2014.

The reduction means a budget cut of 3.4m in the next financial year and a further 2.1m the following year.

The consultation period will start on 28 January and end on 22 April.

Meanwhile, .a spokesman for the Torquay station said (before the Authority meeting): Our main cause for concern is we are losing our second full-time appliance.

(Photo: wikipedia.org)
Torquay Fire Station

We understand the need to be able to try to fill the funding gaps, but there is a fine line between doing that and putting the public at risk and we feel that this is a step too far.

There are inherent dangers of taking away one pump. It is increasing danger to members of the public by taking away cover.

Firefighters in Torquay were called together last week to hear bosses outline the plans.

They were told the service needed to make cuts of 5.5million due to a drop in Government funding.

As a result, a proposal has been made to cutback the number of full-time pumps at three stations in Plymouth as well as ones in Ilfracombe and Torquay.

No jobs will be lost, with firefighters re-deployed to fill gaps and fire safety duties elsewhere in the counties.

The station spokesman added: There are inherent dangers in what they are proposing with regard to the time-scale of getting resources to incidents.

We feel it is the case that lives will be put at risk. We wont be able to turn out two fire appliances immediately � the other would now be on-call.

Our standard of cover is currently 10 minutes for the first pump and 13 minutes for the second. We feel there are some areas of Torquay where this time will be extended and that is our concern.

The service proposal states the same number of fire engines will remain available with the third appliance crewed as and when needed.

Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: The changes we propose aim to strike the balance between making savings and maintaining public safety.

These are difficult times and difficult choices are needed. The status quo is simply not an option given the need to significantly reduce the budget.

Firefighters have met Torbay MP Adrian Sanders. He has now written to fire chiefs to clarify what the proposals would mean.

The letter says: Although, as I understand it, the third engine will physically remain in place in the Torquay, as it will be permanently unmanned it will equate to a significant loss of fire fighting capacity.

But he said he understood the financial difficulties.

The Fire Brigades Union has reacted furiously to what it calls the most savage cuts ever.

Trevor French, Devon and Somerset FBU secretary, said: Rather than just accept these enormous cuts forced upon us by central Government, the fire authority along with chief fire officer Lee Howell should tell the coalition government this scale of cuts is unacceptable, risks destroying the fabric of this important service, and ultimately puts more lives at risk. Herald Express

Related:
FBU slams proposals for massive cuts in Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service – 250313 1355z
https://goatysnews.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/fbu-slams-proposals-for-massive-cuts-in-devon-somerset-fire-and-rescue-service-250313-1355z/

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