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Hundreds of firefighters under review and fire engines could be withdrawn under cuts

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Hundreds of retained firefighters are under review and fire engines could be withdrawn amid major downgrades of fire stations under sweeping cuts proposed to the public.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has to save £5.7 million by 2020 - on top of £4m it has already had cut from its budget since 2010.

Bosses are now urging residents to have their say on the options, stressing no decisions have yet been made.

The service said one option was to 'reduce the number of fire stations having a response capability from the current 33 stations and 42 fire appliances to 15 stations with 15 fire appliances'.

In a separate proposal relating to 15 fire stations - including Cannock, Lichfield, Penkridge and Wombourne, there are proposals to increase the number of 'whole time' firefighters from 300 to 390 and scrap 499 retained posts altogether. Retained firefighters would be asked to take on the role of part-time firefighters.

Retained firefighters are staff who may have other jobs and are called out as and when needed.

However, separate proposals for different fire stations suggest making more use of retained firefighters.

"The current mix of whole-time and retained appliances would be replaced by all appliances being crewed 24/7 by whole-time staff on annualised hours," the service said in a report. "Special appliances would be placed as determined by the most recent review of special appliances and be switch crewed by whole-time staff."

In a separate proposal relating to 15 fire stations - including Cannock, Lichfield, Penkridge and Wombourne, there are options to increase the number of 'whole time' firefighters from 300 to 390 and scrap 499 retained posts altogether. Retained firefighters would be asked to take on the role of part-time firefighters.

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Retained firefighters are staff who may have other jobs and are called out as and when needed.

However, separate proposals for different fire stations suggest making more use of retained firefighters.

The options include cutting the second fire engine from stations including Stone and Rugeley as well as going to retained firefighters overnight on the main fire engine in Cannock.

And the fire service is warning the proposals it has put forward mean it would not meet its own standards for getting to 'medium risk' incidents on time.

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The option would save £441,000 a year. An alternative for Cannock is to scrap the standalone Targeted Response Vehicle crew, which deals with smaller incidents. This would cut eight posts saving £348,000 per year in salaries.

A third option is 'flexible crewing', with two watches working shifts in teams of five and an overnight team of three. This would save £135,000.

Stafford would lose its night shift, keeping two 'watches' covering the daytime only while the retained provision at Rising Brook would stay. The move would save £441,000 a year.

Similar to Cannock, an alternative option is the 'flexible crewing' one with two watches in teams of five and an overnight time of three.

Both options for Stone involve the loss of the second fire appliance. But there is a choice of keeping some crew to cover the Command Support Vehicle - a mobile control room - or save £107,000 by removing the additional fire crew.

People can share their views online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Communitysafetyoptions

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