Plans to increase the minimum number of fire service officers on duty in the West Midlands from nine to 12 – despite there being less staff available – have been put on hold after an outcry from unions.
It came after the number of officers was reduced from 63 to 54 at West Midlands Fire Service.
However, after months of negotiations with local FBU officials, deputy chief fire officer, Phil Loach, has agreed to maintain the nine officer minimum for six months while a review is carried out.
Neil Johnson, West Midlands Fire Brigades Union officers representative, said: “We’re looking forward to seeing the results of the trial, which we think will show that nine on-duty officers, supported by a robust recall to duty policy, is the right amount to protect public safety and run the service efficiently.”
He added: “This is a very successful outcome for fire officers and the service itself.
“The FBU is really pleased that it was able to reach a collective agreement with management through thorough, intensive but very productive negotiations.”
It comes as a strike is threatened over reform of firefighters’ pensions to increase their retirement age from 55 to 60 and reduce benefits.
The union says many firefighters cannot continue until 60 due to the physically demanding nature of the work.