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Fire service unveil plans which could see between 50 and 80 jobs lost

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CONTROVERSIAL new plans have today been revealed which could see 20 firefighters jobs axed at the Bohemia Road and The Ridge stations as part of a bid to save £7 million.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is looking to shed between 50 and 80 jobs across the county from its current operational staff.

Proposals include a new system of working for firefighters at The Ridge and Bohemia stations which could see them sleeping overnight on site.

The Day Crewed Plus plan could reduce staff but “not affect attendance times” according to the service.

The details have been revealed ahead of a key Fire Authority meeting on Friday (Feb 14).

A statement from ESFRS issued today states: “The service has to meet the twin challenges of changing needs within the community and reductions in its funding.

“The number of incidents has fallen over the years as prevention work continues to reduce the risks of fires and other emergencies. Meanwhile funding has been reduced due to cuts in Government grants and pressures to keep council tax levels low.”

Chief fire officer Des Prichard pledged to the Observer today that the losses would not affect the services remit to get “eight firefighters to 60 per cent of calls within eight minutes.”

Fire authority members will consider a number of proposals which will be subject to a consultation process.

The ones that affect 1066 Country are detailed in the following statement:

Proposal 2a or 2b

These proposals are based on an “either/or” basis – only one would need to be implemented to contribute towards the savings needed by 2018/19

Proposal 2a

Convert Battle Fire Station from Wholetime (Day Crewed) to a new Day Crewed Duty System. The station could then provide the same standard of cover 7 days a week instead of 5, giving more support for Hastings.

We would therefore be able to remove the Retained Duty System fire engine from The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings. This attends a low number of calls and so removing it is predicted to have no significant impact on Service performance. This would mean we increase the establishment at Battle whilst reducing the number of on call firefighters at The Ridge.

If fully implemented, resources would be reallocated to increase the establishment at Battle, leaving us with a net saving of £14,000 by 2018/19

Proposal 2b

Convert Battle Fire Station from Wholetime (Day Crewed) to a retained duty system. This would reduce the number of Wholetime posts at Battle by 9.

This would mean both fire engines are kept at The Ridge in Hastings. Battle has a low number of calls and analysis shows there would be no significant impact on Service performance.

If fully implemented, this could save £200,000 by 2018/19.

Proposal 3

Introduce “Day Crewed Plus” at The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings, both currently Wholetime stations.

“Day Crewed Plus” would be a new way of working for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and is successfully used by other fire and rescue services across England.

It means that firefighters stay in accommodation provided by us on site on a self rostering duty system.

They are therefore still ready to turn out 24 hours a day. This option would mean we could save money by reducing posts but it would not affect attendance times.

This would reduce the number of posts by 20.

This could save us the service £432,000 by 2018/19.

The proposals relate to both retained and wholetime positions. The service employs 412 wholetime firefighters and 235 retained firefighters.

Speaking to the Observer today Mr Prichard added: “We have a plan to look at all our costs. The reality in a single service organisation most of our costs are on our staff.

“We will continue to hit that service standard of getting eight firefighters to 60 per cent of calls within eight minutes.

“We intend to maintain our 24 stations across the service.

“We have to save money and this level of saving is likely to mean 50 to 80 operational posts being lost.

 

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