County Durham and Darlington Fire Service looking to cut staff and review services to save £3.6m

CUTS PLAN: Spennymoor Fire Station Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

CUTS PLAN: Spennymoor Fire Station Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

CUTS PLAN: Spennymoor Fire Station Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

CUTS PLAN: Spennymoor Fire Station Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

A NORTH-East fire service is proposing to cut staff and review services to fill a £3.6m funding gap.

Spennymoor Fire Station could be operated by part-time firefighters under the plans being considered by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority.

The number of full-time staff in Darlington could also be reduced, while police and ambulance crews could share some County Durham fire stations.

Unveiling the authority's strategic plan for 2015/16 to 2017/18, Susan Johnson, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that there were no plans to close fire stations or reduce the number of appliances.

She added: "The five proposals that we are consulting on include working with partner organisations and using our current resources in different ways to make £3.6m of savings within the service during the next three years to meet the reductions in the government funding that we receive.

"We have begun this consultation early to provide an extended period of time to speak to and canvass the opinion of everyone affected, from MPs to people living and working in our area.”

The service has already had to find £3.5m of savings over the last three years.

The five proposals include:

- Sharing Barnard Castle Fire Station with police, ambulance and mountain rescue staff; Stanhope and Crook with the police and Sedgefield with the ambulance service.

- Training firefighters to deal with medical emergencies, including heart attacks, bleeding, breathing difficulties, trauma and strokes.

- Reviewing the staffing of the aerial ladder platform appliance in Darlington, including the possible use of retained staff.

- Reviewing the number of emergency response officers - who respond in cars to take charge of major incidents - employed by the service.

- Changing the staffing at Spennymoor Fire Station for the first responding appliance to retained only, rather than full-time during the day and retained at night and over weekends.

Tony Curry, Durham secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the union was still digesting the consultation document and would respond to the authority formally in due course.

However, he added: "The FBU always has grave concerns about reductions in the number of firefighters and the cover they provide."

To view the three-year strategic plan document , visit www.ddfire.gov.uk/service-plans where there is a link to the consultation questions at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/three_year_strategic_plan15-16_17-18

For a hard copy of the document, call 0845-3058383. The consultation will run until December 1.

Comments (5)

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8:21pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Sensible measures of sharing accommodation. Perfectly reasonable given that most Police stations aren't open all day anyhow and whilst the fire brigade offer a valuable service - they don't work full time (well, not as firefighters at any rate).
Sensible measures of sharing accommodation. Perfectly reasonable given that most Police stations aren't open all day anyhow and whilst the fire brigade offer a valuable service - they don't work full time (well, not as firefighters at any rate). Voice-of-reality
  • Score: -4

9:19pm Mon 1 Sep 14

StanLaurels_CamelToe says...

Well I've finished reading the document with very little confidence. The way that it is worded shows that the 'proposals' are set in stone, very closed questions with no scope for negotiation.
I think the other thing that struck me is the flexi duty system, which is senior managers on call to go to incidents. There are plans to "review" (which means remove) the amount of managers attending incidents. Fair enough this will save a few quid through cars etc, where most the time a senior manager isn't needed.
However, the only people set to lose their jobs are the poor FF's at Spennymoor, replacing Pump 1 with a retained crew. I notice no figures of retained pump availability which is the scary part. Most people work during the day = pump off, ironically people usually crash their cars during rush hour (thus the name).
Back to the senior managers (the ones who don't risk their lives for you) .. Mrs Johnson has a renumeration package of over £165,000. The leader of a small F&RS (in national comparison) receiver over 16k more than the leader of our fine nation (fine nation, not leader). Justified given the financial pressures? Well over £0.5m on 4 managers per annum.

The question is Mrs Johnson, the FF's are suffering, are the managers going to suffer too? Because when I pay my council tax and have a house fire, I don't want someone waving a Biro and wearing a nice tie turning up.

Also, for co responding with NEAS, what training will FF's receive? They are currently trained to basic trauma/life support. You mention treating heart attacks, hypoglycaemia etc. Will FF's be taught ECGs, rhythm recognition, blood glucose levels etc? It's all good having a blue light outside your house when the fan turns brown but theres a skill expectation involved as a stakeholder. Also, who cops the blame if something goes wrong, what about FF's T&C's.

These 'proposals' are waifer thin, set in stone and favoured very much in managements lap.
Well I've finished reading the document with very little confidence. The way that it is worded shows that the 'proposals' are set in stone, very closed questions with no scope for negotiation. I think the other thing that struck me is the flexi duty system, which is senior managers on call to go to incidents. There are plans to "review" (which means remove) the amount of managers attending incidents. Fair enough this will save a few quid through cars etc, where most the time a senior manager isn't needed. However, the only people set to lose their jobs are the poor FF's at Spennymoor, replacing Pump 1 with a retained crew. I notice no figures of retained pump availability which is the scary part. Most people work during the day = pump off, ironically people usually crash their cars during rush hour (thus the name). Back to the senior managers (the ones who don't risk their lives for you) .. Mrs Johnson has a renumeration package of over £165,000. The leader of a small F&RS (in national comparison) receiver over 16k more than the leader of our fine nation (fine nation, not leader). Justified given the financial pressures? Well over £0.5m on 4 managers per annum. The question is Mrs Johnson, the FF's are suffering, are the managers going to suffer too? Because when I pay my council tax and have a house fire, I don't want someone waving a Biro and wearing a nice tie turning up. Also, for co responding with NEAS, what training will FF's receive? They are currently trained to basic trauma/life support. You mention treating heart attacks, hypoglycaemia etc. Will FF's be taught ECGs, rhythm recognition, blood glucose levels etc? It's all good having a blue light outside your house when the fan turns brown but theres a skill expectation involved as a stakeholder. Also, who cops the blame if something goes wrong, what about FF's T&C's. These 'proposals' are waifer thin, set in stone and favoured very much in managements lap. StanLaurels_CamelToe
  • Score: 14

9:55pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Joanne2410 says...

I actually thought there was no service in Spennymoor after they left the premises on St Andrews Road! N the car wash took residence. Where are they now based? Obviously new premises! Yet again more tax payers money wasted - bishop hospital - slowly closing, Spennymoor police station not fully operational 24/7, new fire station obviously not 24/7!
Why build new premises when they aren't fully functioned/occupied to close n cost tax payers even more! No wonder the economy failing - people who work pay taxes towards these and those on benefits yet they get closed as they can't be sustained! Will the government please stop wasting money on building or bringing in schemes within our public services to only have them fail short/long term! I don't pay my taxes for this, why bother voting either way now everyone is getting screwed!
I actually thought there was no service in Spennymoor after they left the premises on St Andrews Road! N the car wash took residence. Where are they now based? Obviously new premises! Yet again more tax payers money wasted - bishop hospital - slowly closing, Spennymoor police station not fully operational 24/7, new fire station obviously not 24/7! Why build new premises when they aren't fully functioned/occupied to close n cost tax payers even more! No wonder the economy failing - people who work pay taxes towards these and those on benefits yet they get closed as they can't be sustained! Will the government please stop wasting money on building or bringing in schemes within our public services to only have them fail short/long term! I don't pay my taxes for this, why bother voting either way now everyone is getting screwed! Joanne2410
  • Score: 3

10:50pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Voice-of-reality says...

...and the party that oversaw the disastrous BAuckland A&E decision was the same party that ordered the abandoned new firebrigade call centre near Thinford, which was aso the same party that oversaw the closure of Newton and Spennymoor Police stations. As ever Labour costs more and delivers very little (and even less to the area that blindly supports it).
...and the party that oversaw the disastrous BAuckland A&E decision was the same party that ordered the abandoned new firebrigade call centre near Thinford, which was aso the same party that oversaw the closure of Newton and Spennymoor Police stations. As ever Labour costs more and delivers very little (and even less to the area that blindly supports it). Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 6

11:14am Tue 2 Sep 14

Crazyloony03 says...

I think you will find that the guy's will be repositioned within the service and some restructuring will taking place to fill gaps that are already there as we speak. So the whole time crew will not lose there jobs. Also the posts of the whole time crew were created out of spare personnel back in 2009. Prior to this spennymoor was primarily a retained (part time) station and I coped reasonably well maintain 100%availability. If the service was to provide figures of the on call availability of the RDS staff now I am sure it will be slightly off the 100% mark however the whole time pump they are talking about spends very little time in the spennymoor area and is forever away standing by at other stations that cannot maintain availability so the retained pump is in fact already the majority of the time the first response appliance. I think too many people jump on the band wagon and slate the service for clearly trying it best to save where possible without noticing that it's the government who are ruining it by cutting them ridiculous amounts year after year and expecting them to provide the same level of service.
I think you will find that the guy's will be repositioned within the service and some restructuring will taking place to fill gaps that are already there as we speak. So the whole time crew will not lose there jobs. Also the posts of the whole time crew were created out of spare personnel back in 2009. Prior to this spennymoor was primarily a retained (part time) station and I coped reasonably well maintain 100%availability. If the service was to provide figures of the on call availability of the RDS staff now I am sure it will be slightly off the 100% mark however the whole time pump they are talking about spends very little time in the spennymoor area and is forever away standing by at other stations that cannot maintain availability so the retained pump is in fact already the majority of the time the first response appliance. I think too many people jump on the band wagon and slate the service for clearly trying it best to save where possible without noticing that it's the government who are ruining it by cutting them ridiculous amounts year after year and expecting them to provide the same level of service. Crazyloony03
  • Score: -4
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