Deeside fire station could be downgraded to day staffing only under cost saving plans
Deeside fire station could be downgraded to daytime staff cover only with night time shifts covered by retained ‘on call’ firefighters.
It’s one of a number of proposals being put forward by North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority (NWFRA) as it looks to plug an expected £1.9m gap in next years budget.
A report by NWFRA’s Planning Working Group will be discussed at an executive panel meeting next Monday.
The report says that running costs of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are expected to jump from £34.1m this financial year to £35.3m in 2019/20.
Local authorities in North Wales contribute to the majority of the fire services funding and in the past, the service has been able to avoid increasing contributions from councils by using its own reserves.
However, the report says – “reserves are now approaching the minimum considered prudent by the Treasurer.’
A list of possible cost saving options have now been drawn up and will be considered by the executive panel on May 14 – they include;
– changing Deeside and/or Rhyl 24-hour shift stations to day staffing only – reverting to retained (on call) cover only at night;
– removing the second fire appliance from Wrexham;
– changing the hours of the second fire appliance in Wrexham to cover daytime hours only, not overnight;
Reducing Deeside fire station to ‘day staffing’ only would save the fire service between £497,542 and £572,544 a year according to the report and would see the number of firefighters at the station reduce from 28 to 14.
Another option would be for councils to increase their contribution to the fire service which would protect current services and jobs.
Local authorities would need to increase funding anywhere from £180,360 to £398,160 depending on the authority and its size.
Recent estimates showed that for 2018/19 North Wales county councils will contribute around 2.5% of their total budget towards the cost of providing fire and rescue services in the area.
Should any of the proposals be agreed and taken forward they would go before a public consultation process over the summer and set in a draft budget for next year by December 2018.
The report does highlight a risk of industrial action by firefighters if changes are made, Fire Brigades Union representatives are due to meet authority members on Friday to discuss the proposals according to the BBC.
‘If what is proposed by North Wales Fire & Rescue Service goes ahead then this will have a huge impact on the way firefighters respond to incidents,”
“Be in no doubt, these proposals will increase the time it takes the service to respond to incidents like property fires or road traffic collisions and will put lives at risk.” said regional FBU secretary Ceri Griffiths.
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