Fire Authority votes for public consultation to reduce number of fire engines
Posted on 23 September 2022
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is facing challenges amid pressure on its budget, primarily due to inflation, pension costs, future uncertainties including pay awards, and the cost-of-living crisis.
Legally the Fire Authority must set a balanced budget, and in 2023, the organisation believes it needs to save £2-3million.
This predicted level of savings will necessitate changes to the number of firefighters and fire engines in the county.
Over the last three years the Service has attended incidents across the county in an average of seven minutes and 52 seconds, less than the eight-minute target set by the Fire Authority. It has also completed 26,000 Safe and Well Visits to vulnerable members of the community and 3000 building fire safety audits.
However, the ongoing financial challenge continues to be felt across the Service. This impacts on the organisation’s structure, resources, and the services it can deliver.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is funded through a combination of council tax and government funding. How this money is used can be found on www.notts-fire.gov.uk.
A review of support roles and operational roles has identified key areas where efficiencies could be achieved. These include a reduction in support staff positions, and a reduction in firefighters and fire engines.
Over the past 18 months the Service has undertaken a comprehensive risk assessment. The analysis explored the types of incidents firefighters are most likely to face, the locations they are most likely to occur, and the times of day the county experiences the highest levels of demand. Alongside this, an independent, sector leading specialist was commissioned to find a money saving option with the least detrimental impact on response times.
Based on these findings, today the Fire Authority agreed to go out to public consultation to:
- Remove one of the two fire engines at London Road Fire Station.
- Remove one of the two fire engines at Stockhill Fire Station.
- Remove the night shift at West Bridgford Fire Station, leaving daytime crewing only.
- Change Ashfield Fire Station from one day shift crewing and one on-call fire engine to one wholetime and one on-call fire engine.
In total these changes will generate around £2million of savings a year.
In previous years, changes to the Service’s response model have been based on the financial challenges at the time. Such changes have included the decision to make Ashfield day-shift crewing in 2018. Now, because of the other changes being proposed and recent demand data, it is proposed that Ashfield be adjusted back to one wholetime fire engine and one on-call fire engine.
Overall, the proposals result in an average seven second increase to county-wide response times.
Regardless of the changes, the nearest, most available appliance will always be sent when members of the public call 999. This is the same for the Service's current operational model.
Chair of the Fire Authority, Michael Payne, said "let me be absolutely clear, today we have voted to seek public consultation on these proposals. We are not removing frontline services at this stage."
Chief Fire Officer Craig Parkin said " Rather than simply making cuts, this redistribution proposal meets the Service’s savings forecast, whilst maintaining the best possible incident response standard, in all areas across Nottinghamshire.
“We are in no way proposing these changes as a good thing, but we can’t afford to do nothing.
“We're already working efficiently with the resources that we have, showing clear improvements in our recent His Majesty’s Inspectorate report to be rated as 'Good' in all areas. We are thankful to our communities for your support of the work we do, but we are being asked to deliver more for less.
"As a sector we've faced significant financial pressure for several years. We are no strangers to making cost efficiencies that allow us to maintain our operational standards and deliver our services.
"Keeping Nottinghamshire's communities safe is our primary focus. In the same way, we need to look after our staff so that they can look after you. This is our best option in extremely challenging national circumstances.
"We'll continue to be more efficient, by placing our operational fire engines where they are most needed.
"At the moment, nothing is final while we consult on these proposals. As Chief Fire Officer, I'm asking people across Nottinghamshire to get involved in the consultation and have your say."