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Fire Authority to consider the future shape of ECFRS

Essex Fire Authority members are set to decide the future shape and role of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service at their meeting next Wednesday, June 8.

The authority will consider the results of the largest consultation ever undertaken by the Service, as it prepares for a future which is likely to see a further reduction in incidents, an increased focus on prevention and protection and a reduction in funding every year until 2020.

Authority members will consider the three options which featured in the consultation, or a fourth of choosing none of the options.

As well as the results of the consultation, which received more than 17,000 responses in 12 weeks, councillors will receive the professional opinion of Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley.

That opinion is based on the fact that Option Two:

• Received strong support, with 73% of all respondents and 68% of employees expressing a preference for it
• Meets the Essex Fire Authority’s performance measures for response standards
• Provides the best opportunity to minimise the potential for compulsory redundancies
• Provides capacity which can be utilised through collaboration with other emergency services to respond to new types of incident
• Offers the best opportunity to impact positively on the culture of the Service

Nearly three quarters of people taking part in the consultation supported Option Two. Under this option, the Service would have 66 fire engines, 18 of which would be wholetime and 48  on-call; a reduction in wholetime firefighter numbers from 570 to 432, with on-call firefighters numbers rising from 437 to 456.

Options One and Three, both of which generate greater savings but involve larger reductions in wholetime firefighters and number of fire engines, received the least support. Between them these two options were favoured by just 1% of respondents. The remaining 24% of responses did not support any of the three options.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “The number of people participating in the consultation is unprecedented. Over the 12 week period we consulted on the options more than 17,000 people have had their say.

“This has given us an excellent insight into what the public, our staff and partners think of our plans and which of the three options we have put forward they prefer.

“Over the last 10 years we have seen huge changes in demand for our service. Nationwide incidents have reduced by 42% and in Essex they have fallen by 45%, despite growth in population and traffic in the County.

“The decision the Essex Fire Authority will make next week will be key to the future of the Service and the vital role we play in keeping Essex safe.”

The Essex Fire Authority meeting will take place at 10am on Wednesday June 8 at ECFRS Headquarters, Kelvedon Park, Rivenhall. The meeting will also be streamed live on the internet. Details of how to watch will be shared soon, through Service social media feeds and on the ECFRS website.

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