Posted: Mon 16th Oct 2023

FBU: A “very sad day for Deeside fire station” as fire authority announced preferred option in staffing shake up

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Oct 16th, 2023

A union representing firefighters has criticised the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority for its decision to focus on changes that could see out-of-hours response times in Deeside increase by up to 10 minutes.

During a public consultation aimed at improving services in rural areas, fire chiefs presented three potential options.

A report detailing the feedback from this consultation was shared with members of the Fire and Rescue Authority in a meeting held today, Monday, 16th October.

Nearly 1,800 people from across North Wales participated in the consultation. Their feedback played a crucial role in shaping the direction of the proposed changes.

Among the options initially presented were the potential closure of stations in Abersoch, Beaumaris, Llanberis, Conwy, and Cerrigydrudion, as well as job losses. However, these options have now been ruled out.

The favoured option, known as ‘Option 1’, proposes moving Deeside and Rhyl fire stations to a day crewed model system.

This would also introduce three day-staffed stations at Corwen, Porthmadog, and Dolgellau.

This change would involve reallocating 28 full-time firefighters following adjustments at Deeside, Rhyl, and the rural duty system.

The day crewing shift system requires crews to work a combination of hours on the station during the day and be on-call from a base location overnight, ensuring a 24-hour response.

The Fire and Rescue Authority, based on public feedback, has decided to focus on further developing Option 1. They have ceased work on the other two options presented during the consultation.

Dylan Rees, Chair of the Fire and Rescue Authority, expressed gratitude to those who participated in the consultation. He highlighted the importance of public engagement events held across North Wales.

However, Stuart Stanley, Chair of the North Wales Fire Brigade Union, voiced significant concerns. He described the proposed changes as “a disaster for Deeside.”

He said: “It moves it a step closer to day crewed. Day crewed will add up to 10 minutes to out of hours response times, which will include 14 of every 24-hour period.

“People who have house fires will be waiting and waiting for a fire engine to attend. It will cost lives!”

He added: “Small incidents will develop into bigger incidents, all because of the ridiculous notion that a remote community should have the same response as an urban community.”

Stuart said: “Since when has anyone living in a remote environment expected to receive a fire engine within a few minutes, as you would expect from an urban response?”

“As for the firefighting staff at Deeside, if they are relocated to Dolgellau, for instance, they will expect an annual commute of 16,000 miles and potentially, 3 hours a day!”

“Those without a car will need to buy one, and those who cycle to work can expect a 5.5-hour one-way journey.”

“This is a sad day for Deeside fire station. However, we will continue to fight as no final decision has been made on what Option 1 will look like, but it’s not promising.”

“It’s up to the Fire Authority to decide on the cuts in Deeside and Rhyl. We will present our case on 7/11 explaining why we believe they should maintain the current system.”

Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant commented: “The Fire Authority’s proposal is a downgrade of services in Deeside, and it’s the wrong decision.”

“I agree with the Fire Brigades Union and will continue to work with them to urge the Fire Authority to reconsider before their final decision.”

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx reassured the public and the union that efforts would focus on developing Option 1. She emphasised the importance of collaboration with the Fire Brigades Union at both local and regional levels.

“I would like to provide reassurance that we will work with members of the Fire Brigades Union, both on a local and regional level, to find a consensus on the way forward. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​​‌‌​‍‌​‌‌‌‌‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌‌‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌​​‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​” She said.

The final decision will be made in a meeting of the Fire and Rescue Authority on 18 December.

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