North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue have launched a consultation over proposed changes to the operating structure of the fire service in the county.
It is a three-month consultation to listen the public’s views on proposed changes to fire and rescue services ahead of the final decision by the PFCC.
Why are they proposing the changes ?
The PFCC/ NYFRS has said “that it is an opportunity to invest in vital areas identified by the public as priorities – such as improving the availability of on-call fire engines in our rural areas, and increasing prevention and protection work across the county”
What are the changes ?
Close Huntingdon along with a whole time pump that was moved out of York some years ago. York previously two pumps 24-7 in the town centre, one was moved to Huntingdon and one to the new station.
Displaced firefighters will be redeployed into preventative roles.
No Aerial Ladder on a night as it can not be crewed effectively with 4 people and one pump. (until other crews attend)
Harrogate would be limited to one Breathing Apparatus crew so only one Immediate rescue. (until other crews attend)
Overall, it is fewer fire engines with fewer crew on them. One argument is there that they are less able to do the job because they are geared around a number of available Firefighters, but the proposal says that resources would be deployed more appropriately, with a greater focus on prevention.
What are the confusing and risk factors ?
It is difficult to easily evaluate these changes from a lay point of view – we intend running follow-up items.
Although the PFCC has said that these are not driven by a need to cut cost and there is a balanced budget. The changes provide £1.5 a year savings and the organisation is servicing debt. They have also said that they will need to call on further loans circa £30million for estates work.
Are the changes drive by a need to save money ?
The fire service works to a budget of around £36million a year.
The proposals will save about £1.5million per year.
Total external borrowing at 31st March 2021 was £12.6million.
Each year, around £1million is paid back as debt repayment.
Each year around £613K is paid as interest repayments.
Full-time Firefighters will reduce from 306 to 259 over 4-years.
The PFCC has said the £1.5 million savings will be reinvested, but it is not clear where else it would go if it wasn’t.
People should hold-back for now in submitting their views until there is greater clarity around the proposals. It is expected that this will be a developing story, with the Fire Brigades Union taking a lead voice.