30,000 sign petition against Devon and Somerset fire service cuts
PUBLISHED: 11:11 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:50 23 September 2019
Firefighters in Devon and Somerset have handed in a petition with more 30,000 signatures opposing any cuts to the service.
Sunday (September 22) marked the end of a 12-week public consultation on proposals which could see up to eight stations closed, including Colyton, Topsham and Budleigh.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned that the plans, which also propose reducing the level of cover at some stations across the two counties, will 'demolish' frontline services leaving public safety at risk.
Since the plans were announced earlier this year, the FBU has been campaigning across the region, seeking the support of local residents and business owners.
The petition was presented to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service at its Exeter headquarters on Friday (September 20).
The FBU had asked for a representative from the principal management team to accept it, but says it was told to hand it in to reception.
James Leslie, Devon and Somerset brigade secretary, said: "It's disgraceful that fire service bosses won't look firefighters in the eye as we hand in this petition with massive support from the public.
"They are happy to go on TV and social media to sell these dangerous proposals but run away and hide when the hit by the reality that the public do not support these dangerous proposals.
"More than 30,000 people have signed our petition and not one member of the principle management team could be bothered to take the time to out of their day to accept this petition. It's shameful.
"We're incredibly grateful to all our members who have been out there campaigning against the cuts. We have been on the ground across all parts of the region, talking to the public about the effects these cuts will have, and have gained huge support.
"Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far. We will not stop until these cuts have been well and truly disbanded."
Sarah Allen, area manager, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We recognise that this is a very complex subject. We've done our best to present to the public the proposed changes in the simplest possible way, allowing people to decide and comment on the aspects of the consultation they feel are important, and what they understand.
"The options in our consultation set out plans to update and reallocate resources to areas of higher risk. This allows us to invest more time in targeted prevention activities to reduce the number of fires happening in the first place.
"We'll be reviewing the responses and presenting this in our final consultation report which will be published on our website at the nd of October."
Options for change being considered are:
Option 1 - Station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe. One appliance from Topsham will be relocated to Middlemoor.
Option 2 - Station closures and removal of third appliances - option 1 plus a move to remove four 'on call' fire engines, one from each station at Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil - currently they all have three fire engines.
Option 3 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances - option 2 plus a move to remove four engines, one from each station in Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes - each one currently has two fire engines.
Option 4 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances and change of status to day crewing - option 3 plus changing the staffing at three stations (Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton) - they currently all staffed 24/7. It's proposed the station will be staffed in the day but at night there will only be 'on call' staff.
Option 5 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing and to on-call at night only - option 4 and a number of stations have two engines - it is proposed that the first fire engine will be crewed 24/7 with 'on call' staff but the second fire engine is crewed at night. This includes Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton and Wellington.
Option 6 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing, on-call at night only and introduction of day crewed roving appliances. Option 5, plus proposals that six day-crewed fire engines (with trained firefighters on the fire engine) are introduced which will be deployed in areas of forecasted high risk and/or where gaps in 'on call' cover is presented.
Option 7 - A mix of the above