Fire Service: Just one week left to have your say on proposed nighttime cover changes in Deeside
A North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority public consultation, aimed at gathering feedback on proposed changes to emergency cover in Deeside and across North Wales, will close a week from today, Saturday, 30th September.
CONSULTATION: Our consultation closes one week from 📅 today! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to respond so far. Make sure to tell us what you think 👉https://t.co/Vkmx1TEgD2 #RightPlaceRightTimeRightSkills pic.twitter.com/4xkstE0e7X
— North Wales Fire #DiogeluCymru #KeepWalesSafe (@NorthWalesFire) September 23, 2023
The consultation, launched on 20 July, explores three options. One of these could significantly change the staffing at Deeside Fire Station, transitioning from full-time firefighters to on-call Retained Duty System (RDS) coverage during nighttime hours.
Currently, RDS firefighters, who often have other full-time employment, are on-call to address emergencies.
Equipped with radio pagers, they rush to the fire station when summoned. Due to strict response time mandates, they must reside or work near their designated station.
The proposed changes also include transforming rural stations, such as Corwen, Dolgellau, and Porthmadog, into daytime staffed stations. This would lead to the reassignment of 28 full-time firefighter roles from Deeside and Rhyl, potentially resulting in job cuts.
Three main options are being discussed:
- Relocate 12 rural and 28 full-time firefighter posts from Rhyl and Deeside to the new day-staffed stations.
- Introduce three new day-staffed stations with potential savings of 1.1 million towards the 2024-25 budget, estimated at 6 million. This would result in a reduction of 22 full-time firefighter roles.
- Align with Option 2, but with only two day-staffed stations, leading to the closure of 5 RDS fire stations and saving 2.4 million.
All the options would lead to a decline in nighttime response standards in communities, negatively affecting densely populated areas, industrial centres, major hospitals, and regions facing economic and social challenges, the Fire Brigades Union has said.
Over 1,100 participants have already shared their insights, both online and in paper formats, demonstrating a high level of public engagement.
Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx expressed gratitude towards everyone who participated in the consultation so far and emphasised the Fire Authority’s commitment to understanding public views.
“We are pleased that so many have completed our questionnaire. However, we have been listening carefully to what you have said and want to ensure that everyone has the best chance possible to record what they think our emergency cover should look like in the future,” Docx noted.
The Fire Brigade Union has offered a counter-proposal. Options four and five would see existing services maintained and plan for growth to meet demand and ensure we maintain the safety record we have in the North.
Duncan Stewart-Ball, Wales FBU Regional Secretary, said, “It is extremely disappointing that we have found ourselves at this point. The Fire Authority took it upon themselves and decided that the public of North Wales should not be given the option for improving the service. To see growth and jobs created, but instead offered three options that all reduce fire cover of sorts but come at an increase to the taxpayer. We urge the Fire Authority to put the growth option, the option for improvement, out to the public of North Wales and let them decide.”
Firefighters from across north Wales will rally in Wrexham at the end of the month to oppose cuts to the service. The protest has been organised by the FBU under the banner of ‘Save our Fire Service’ and starts at noon on Saturday, 30th September, at Queens Square.
Local community members will take part in a peaceful protest against the proposed changes at Deeside Fire Station, also on September 30th.
Mell Jones, the protest organiser, commented, “Our firefighters in Deeside are integral to our community. The proposed changes might lead to delayed responses with potentially dire outcomes. Considering the upcoming new housing developments, reducing essential services seems ill-advised.”
Mell who is also behind a petition added: “Please support this petition and save our local firefighters.”
For those still wishing to contribute, the consultation will be open until midnight on 30 September 2023.
The consultation can be found here: https://www.northwalesfire.gov.wales/about-us/emergency-cover-review-have-your-say/what-options-are-we-consulting-on-what-do-they-mean-for-our-communities-and-staff/
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