Proposals made to axe Alcester night time fire cover

CONCERNS have been raised about the safety of Alcester residents as the town is set to lose it's night-time fire cover following the launch of a recent public consultation to save millions of pounds.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is to start a consultation that will show how it will change the way it operates to provide an improved response to emergencies whilst making £2.4m worth of savings over the next four years.

But a firefighter, who wishes to remain antonymous, has attacked the plan, calling the situation "a joke".

He said that after the consultation, Alcester Fire Station will lose its 24 hour whole-time cover, with appliances only being available from 10am-10pm and that "throughout all the ‘smoke and mirror’ misdirection by senior officers," the overall number of appliances the county will have available will be reduced.

The firefighter is also angry the service is stopping support for the Young Firefighters Association, with no fundraising attempts being made to keep it going, and criticised the handling of the deputy chief officer Gary Phillips' position, who retired last month but will return to his role on a two-year fixed term contract from April 14.

"The deputy chief is able to retire, receive a huge pay-out and pension, then be re-employed into the same post. At a time of financial squeezes this is outrageous."

There have also been worries about the impact of the consultation on Studley, with Labour candidate for the area Wayne Bates saying that emergency response times will jump from 20 minutes instead of the current 10 minutes.

"30 whole-time firefighters posts in the county are to be lost. I am concerned that with lower response times and longer distances to travel the impact in emergency situations could threaten lives," he said.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service explained: "The suggested improvements to the service mean that the entire county - both its urban and rural areas - will have an enhanced and more evenly spread level of operational cover particularly during periods of the day where we have more incidents.

"This will ensure that across the county all life threatening emergencies are attended within ten minutes on 80 per cent of occasions.

"By placing our fire engines in appropriate locations, and with improved cover across the county, we will have more engines available during the periods of peak demand and available to get to the locations in the county where we know we get more life threatening incidents.

"In saving around £1.3million, we have had to make some decisions that may prove unpopular. The decision to cease support to the young firefighters association was taken in line with the service’s commitment to target its resources at the most vulnerable members of community.

"It is not our policy to discuss the terms and conditions of a member of staff. However, re-engaging the deputy chief fire officer provides continuity and stability and will make a saving for the service equivalent to a wholetime fire fighter over the course of the two years."

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