CHANGES to controversial plans that will cut the number of full-time firefighters at Yate Fire Station have been described as “a fair compromise” by campaigners.
It had been outlined in the Avon Fire and Rescue Service Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), which aims to save £5million a year until 2020, for Yate Fire Station to operate with full-time crews working in the day and on-call firefighters being retained overnight.
The changes were heavily criticised by residents, town councillors and the Fire Brigade Union as they believed it reduced the protection level in the area, with on-call firefighters potentially taking longer to respond to an emergency, with changeover times taking place around the morning and evening rush hour.
But following a six-week consultation, an amendment was made to the IRMP which would see two on call crews in operation overnight, rather than one.
Yate town councillor Chris Willmore, one of the campaigners against the changes, described the development as “miles better” than what had previously been proposed.
“It isn’t everything we asked for, but it is a definite improvement, a fair compromise we can live with,” she said.
“They were going to reduce their capacity at the worst possible time, when calls to them are increasing.
“Having that extra crew will mean we have a better response time than we do now and will be better equipped in case of emergency.”
The original proposed crewing model was in operation at the station prior to 2009, when more full-time crews were introduced to meet the demands of the dramatically expanding area.
Speaking to the Gazette, Cllr Peter Abraham, chairman of the Avon Fire Authority said he felt the amendment was “a sensible decision” and “recognition of local peoples’ concerns”.
He said: “While it will cost us in a time when we are trying to be as efficient as possible, we do not want to put anyone at risk.”
Cllr Abraham highlighted that the savings were having to be made across the region and that the service were on course for previously forecasted staffing levels, despite the financial climate.
“In Avon we are facing one of the highest full-time covers,” he said. “We have to look more to on-call crews, as much of the rest of the country already does.
“Focusing our full time staff on the day shift makes sense as they are also being required to do the kind of work that has to be done in the day; interacting with members of the public, fitting smoke alarms, and offering fire prevention advice.
“We looked very critically at the callout numbers and believe that we can achieve what is required of us.”
The service have now begun the recruitment process for more on call firefighters to help provide night cover in Yate. Those interested can find out more at www.avonfire.gov.uk/recruitment-home/retained-firefighter