PLANS to modify the way Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service operate have been approved by council chiefs.
The proposals were given the green light at a meeting of Warwickshire’s Full Council and will see fewer firefighters and 24-hour shifts introduced as part of a raft of changes to fire cover in Stratford.
A Day Crewing Plus System will be implemented at the Masons Road station as the organisation looks to save £2.4 million from its budget over the next four years.
Currently, there are four watches of seven crew members at Stratford and nearby Alcester, with five going out to each call and the remaining two acting as extras to cover sickness.
But under the new plans the number of whole time firefighters will drop to just five and those who are serving will be rostered for 24 hours but classified as ‘on duty’ for 12 hours during the day.
This will be followed by 12 hour nights where they will be on ‘standby.’
They will be expected to sleep in purpose-built accommodation close to or at the station costing the service £400,000 – £200,000 each for Stratford and Alcester.
As part of the money-saving venture, a central response point will be established in Gaydon while chiefs are aiming to introduce a new response standard where the first engine must attend emergencies within ten minutes on 75 per cent of occasions.
The second engine would then be expected to attend within 15 minutes on 90 per cent of call outs.
The meeting also saw council chiefs agree to extend its support for the Young Firefighters Association until the end of March 2015.
But the branches at Shipston, Bidford, Kenilworth and Wellesbourne will be scrapped unless a partner organisation is found to take over the scheme.
A public consultation was held earlier in the year and fire chiefs claim the new plans will allow fewer firefighters to provide the same level of cover without compromising safety, help increase efficiency and benefit firefighter safety.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Services Chief Fire Officer, Andy Hickmott said: “I am confident the proposals are the most effective way of providing value for money while continuing to respond to the public when they need us the most.
“By rethinking how we operate and introducing new ways of working that reflect peak demand and new flexibilities around shift patterns, we are better equipped to deal with life-threatening emergencies.
“The plans will also ensure our firefighters have the best equipment and are trained to help keep them safe.”
Warwickshire County Council’s safety spokesman Les Caborn added: “Our main focus now will be to look at how we implement these changes and the time frames in which they will be achieved as we continue to keep our residents safe.”