North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue will increase the crew size of Tactical Response Vehicles (TRVs) from 3 to 4.
The Chair of North Yorkshire Fire Authority, Cllr Andrew Backhouse, announced that 4 firefighters will now crew each TRV (Tactical Response Vehicle) instead of 3.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say that the move could save up to 20 firefighter posts, and even save lives.
It is a policy U-turn from the fire authority who earlier this year wanted to reduce crew sizes to just two. The news comes after North Yorkshire FBU brigade secretary Steve Howley presented a damning statement to the fire authority about how public safety was being put at risk by two-strong fire crews.
The FBU won the support of local MPs, prompting the newly appointed fire authority chair to offer up the policy change.
Fire crews operating the TRVs at fire stations in Ripon, Tadcaster, Northallerton and Malton will be made up of at least four firefighters by April 2018 at the latest.
Simon Wall, chair of the FBU in North Yorkshire, said:
We welcome this news, which could potentially save up to 20 firefighter posts over the coming year. This is the right course of action to safeguard both the public and firefighters. We are heartened that Cllr Andrew Backhouse can see the need for change in the way the fire authority works – he has assured us that he can deliver this change. Getting the commitment on the increased crew numbers for the TRVs is a big step in the right direction.
We very much welcome what seems to be a real shift in the direction of the fire authority under Cllr Backhouse. The FBU look forward to an improved working relationship for the benefit of the service, FBU members and the public of North Yorkshire.
Concerns over firefighter and public safety have been the driver of an ongoing dispute between the fire service and the FBU. The FBU say they hope the policy change will be a breakthrough in resolving the dispute.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it will employ two extra emergency control operators whilst the union continues discussions to resolve the staffing crisis in North Yorkshire’s control room.
Simon Wall added:
The FBU remain committed to ensuring the safety of both firefighters and the public we serve.
We have witnessed first-hand a house fire in Harrogate in July this year that could and probably would have had a different outcome had a TRV arrived first on scene with a crew of 3.
Firefighters need the right resources along with the correct funding from central government to ensure safety remains of paramount importance.
Only yesterday the TRV broke down again and was required to be towed away to the manufacturers.
Are these vehicles truly fit for purpose or will the “its only teething problems” even after 9 months of being in service continue until someone is seriously injured or even killed.