Strike action possible if fire station closures go ahead

PUBLISHED: 13:02 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:02 01 July 2019

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service HQ. Picture: Callum Lawton

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service HQ. Picture: Callum Lawton

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Firefighters across the county could strike if a controversial plan to slash services and covert fully-manned stations is agreed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said all options are on the table after Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Authority approved a consultation process, which will see services streamlined.

Six options have been put to public consultation - all earmark station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham and Woolacombe.

Other measures include the removal of fire engines and reductions in fire cover.

The FBU said it is confident the public will back a campaign to oppose the consultation.

Trevor French, FBU executive council member for the South West, said: "We are looking at all options at the moment.

"For the next 12 weeks, we will be campaigning against all of these options, as they all puts lives and firefighters at risk.

"We were given assurances that the authority will listen to the public and these plans were not a rubber-stamping process.

"It is our view that the public will get behind the campaign and reject these proposals."

Mr French said if the fire authority does not 'adhere to its promises' to listen to the public and enforce one of the six options, the FBU will look at 'all actions', including strike action.

In a separate statement, a spokesman for the FBU said: "We condemn the fire authority's decision to publicly consult on six options that include station closures, removal of appliances and cuts in appliance availability.

"All of these options will put firefighter and public lives at risk.

"These options are totally unacceptable to this committee and we will now campaign, both politically and industrially, against these dangerous proposals."

What are the options?

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.

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