Hastings fire station still set to be downgraded

One Hastings fire station is still set to be downgraded while crewing changes at another have been dropped.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 3:27 pm
East Sussex fire and rescue service

The first details of ‘modified’ Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) proposals – a document laying out how East Sussex’s fire and rescue services operate within the county have now been made public.

An earlier version of the proposals, which were put out for public consultation in April, had proven to be highly controversial, with the Fire Brigades Union and others describing them as “a major threat to public safety”.

The modified proposals, however, see the changes scaled back across much of the county.

A spokesman for the East Sussex Fire Authority said: “We had the highest response rate ever to a consultation and we would like to assure all contributors that each response will be considered.

“The service also welcomes all the feedback that has been received from staff and our representative bodies and whilst the public consultation has been running, in parallel, senior officers have been engaged in meaningful and constructive dialogue with staff representative groups and trade unions.

“The modified proposals will reduce impacts on our workforce and mitigate a number of the concerns presented to the service through the consultation. 

“It is a statutory duty for Fire and Rescue Authorities to have an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) and our current plan expires this year. 

“It remains vital then that our available resources are used in the most effective way to mitigate the risks our communities face.”

Twenty jobs are set to go as result of the modified proposals, but ten of these are expected to be transferred to a new flexible resourcing pool or be assigned additional fire safety work. 

As a result,  only ten jobs are set to be completely cut, but the fire service says it does not expect to have to make any compulsory redundancies.

The initial proposals would have seen between 27 and 33 firefighter posts lost, although it was unclear how many would have been kept on through transfer to other parts of the fire service.

The modified plan also means that staffing changes will not go ahead at five out of six seven-day, day-crewed fire stations in the county: Bexhill; Newhaven; Crowborough; Lewes; and Uckfield.

Under the previous proposals these stations would only have had full-time firefighters on-site during the daytime Monday to Friday, with on-call firefighters providing cover in the evening and at weekends. 

These changes will still go ahead at Battle fire station, however.

Plans to downgrade The Ridge fire station in Hastings – which currently has firefighters on station 24/7 – to a seven-day day-crewed station will also move ahead. On-call firefighters will provide cover at evenings and weekends.

At the same time Hastings’ Bohemia Road fire station – a full-time station – will gain a second fire engine on site to enhance its cover.

Meanwhile, plans to introduce a “group crewing” system will only move ahead at Preston Circus, Hove and Roedean fire stations, rather than at all five of the service’s full-time stations.

Eastbourne and Bohemia Road will retain its current staffing system as a result.

Plans to cut secondary fire engines from some other stations have also been scaled back, with Bexhill, Crowborough, Uckfield and Newhaven all retaining their second vehicle.

Other stations will have access to specialist operational vehicles so that Lewes, Battle, Rye, Heathfield, Seaford and Wadhurst maintain at least two operational vehicles, the fire service says.

A final decision on the proposals is set to be made at a Fire Authority meeting on September 3.

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