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Options for the future shape of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service revealed

A series of options setting out the future role and shape of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, which will be discussed by the Essex Fire Authority at its meeting on Wednesday next week (13 January), have been revealed.

Three preferred options for change have been selected from a total of 10 and, subject to the Fire Authority’s approval, will feature in a 12-week public consultation starting in the first week of February.
The changes will prepare the Service for a future which will involves continued reductions in incidents, an increased focus on prevention and a commitment to become financially sustainable as reductions in funding continue each and every year between 2016 and  2020.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “The demands on the Service have changed dramatically over the last decade. We now attend less than half the number of incidents we did just a decade ago and, along with other UK fire services, we face a dramatic reduction in the way in which we are funded.

“As a result, we need to look at how we resource our response, protection and prevention responsibilities and ensure we have the correct balance.

“Last year we carried out the first stage of the largest consultation we have ever undertaken with the publication of our Integrated Risk Management Plan. We have used what we learned from this to develop options for change, enhancing our fire, accident and risk prevention role while continuing to provide a robust response across the County if it is needed.

“These options will be discussed by Members of the Fire Authority who will select their preferred options which we will then seek the opinion of the people of Essex in the second stage of consultation. At this stage it is important to understand that nothing has been ruled in or out.”

Building on the findings of the first stage of the consultation, the Service worked with external consultants to create highly accurate models showing the effects any changes will have on the response to incidents.
This work created 10 proposals for change, three of which have been selected as preferred options by Fire Authority Members. All the options will ensure that the Service can reach 90% of incidents within 15 minutes and all life threatening calls in an average of 10 minutes.

In all of the response model proposals shortlisted it is suggested that specialist off road vehicles, known as, Pinzgauer appliances, will be removed from the following fire stations:

• Billericay Fire Station
• Manningtree Fire Station
• Burnham Fire Station
• Great Dunmow Fire Station (Note; a second fire engine is to be maintained at Great Dunmow)

The Service has five day crewed fire stations. Day crewed stations see firefighters on the fire station between Monday and Friday 0900hrs to 1800hrs. During the evenings and weekends these stations are on-call status. These five stations see an annual average demand of between 177 and 303 incidents per year. The Service has 13 on-call fire stations currently operating at this level of demand and higher.

In all of the fire cover proposals shortlisted it is suggested that the following fire engines are to be converted from the day crewing duty system to the on-call crewing system:

• Dovercourt Fire Station
• South Woodham Ferrers Fire Station
• Great Baddow Fire Station
• Waltham Abbey Fire Station
• Great Dunmow Fire Station

Recognising the changes set out above, the three preferred options are:

Proposal One

This proposal will deliver savings of £8.6m. It is predicted to meet both of the Authority’s revised response standards.

Under the proposal the Service would have 64 fire engines, 15 of which are wholetime and 49 on-call. Specifically this proposal seeks to:

Remove the second fire engine from the following fire stations:
• Orsett Fire Station
• Rayleigh Fire Station
• Loughton Fire Station
• Southend Fire Station
• Grays Fire Station
• Corringham Fire Station
• Frinton Fire Station

Change the crewing of the second fire engine at the following fire stations from wholetime to on-call:

• Clacton Fire Station
• Harlow Fire Station

These changes would see a reduction in watch-based wholetime firefighters from the current 570 to 360 and an increase in on-call firefighters from 437 to 466.

Proposal Two

This proposal is projected to deliver savings of £6.4m. It is predicted to meet both of the Authority’s response standards.

Under the proposal the Service would have 66 fire engines, 18 of which are wholetime and 48 are on-call. Specifically this proposal seeks to:

Remove the second fire engine from the following fire stations:
• Orsett Fire Station
• Rayleigh Fire Station
• Loughton Fire Station
• Corringham Fire Station
• Frinton Fire Station
Change the crewing of the second fire engine at the following fire station from wholetime to on-call:
• Clacton Fire Station

These changes would see a reduction in watch-based wholetime firefighters from the current 570 to 432 and an increase in on-call firefighters from 437 to 456.
 
Proposal Three

This proposal is projected to deliver savings of £10m. The initial modelling suggests that this proposal will meet the second of the Authority’s revised response standards but fails to meet the first by 0.2%.

Further modelling, using elevated on-call availability figures, suggests that this proposal would meet the first of the Authority’s revised response standards with an availability figure of 98%.  Under the proposal the
Service would have 64 fire engines, 14 of which are wholetime and 50 are on-call.

Specifically this proposal seeks to:

Remove the second fire engine from the following fire stations:
• Orsett Fire Station
• Rayleigh Fire Station
• Loughton Fire Station
• Southend Fire Station
• Grays Fire Station
• Clacton Fire Station
• Harlow Fire Station

Change the crewing at the following fire station from wholetime to on-call:

• Brentwood Fire Station

These changes would see a reduction in watch-based wholetime firefighters from the current 570 to 336 and an increase in on-call firefighters from 437 to 467.

The consultation will launch at the start of February and will offer people many ways to feedback including online, on the phone or through the post. It will run for 12 weeks.

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