Date: 8 May 2014
Press release number: WS0098

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) has announced draft proposals aimed at improving the service it offers across the county while managing resources within a reduced budget.

The plans are designed to save £1.6million from the Service's budget for 2015/16, without impacting on its response to emergencies or response standards.

Chief Fire Officer Sean Ruth said: "The number of emergency calls we receive has fallen, and the types of incident we respond to has changed. We need to adapt our service to reflect this.

"We have done a huge amount to target prevention work to those most at risk. We want to continue to work even more closely with the communities we serve to reduce the likelihood of emergencies from occurring in the first place."

The draft proposals will be considered by West Sussex County Council's Environment and Community Services Select Committee on 14 May, after which a decision on whether they should go forward for public consultation will be taken by Lionel Barnard, the Cabinet Member for Residents' Services.
The draft plans:

  • Keep all fire stations open, but change the way fire engines are crewed, introduce new shift patterns and reduce the overall number of staff, including firefighters.
  • Keep the same number of immediate response fire engines, but move one from a temporary base to a permanent location and remove some second engines, and one third engine.
  • Will support WSFRS with the prevention work it carries out, working closely with communities, professional partners and those most at risk.
  • Will enhance resilience and existing community safety work with additional resources from a new Crewing Optimisation Group, as well as specialists to deal with severe weather events.


If a public consultation is agreed it is likely to run from 2 June until 22 August 2014, before the proposals are considered by West Sussex County Council in September.

Further information will be available on the Fire Service website. Contact Gary Towson on 07793 369919 or Claire Byrd on 07720 341152


NOTES TO EDITORS;

Our proposals for 2015-16 support our future vision and reflect changes in community risk and the demands on our services. We also propose investment to increase our capacity for preparing for, responding to and supporting the recovery from flooding and severe weather events.

The combined proposals, if approved, will achieve our budget reduction target of 1.6million from our 2013-14 budget of 28.3million.

There are no proposals to close any fire stations or reduce the number of immediate response fire engines. Through the use of more flexible working we will continue to deliver a safe, professional and efficient fire and rescue service for people in West Sussex.

Proposal: Move one of the two immediate response fire engines at Horsham to Littlehampton, making it a 24hr immediate response station
WSFRS has eight immediate response fire engines based at five fire stations. An immediate response fire engine was moved from Horley to Horsham in 2013 as an interim measure pending these proposals. Relocating this resource permanently to Littlehampton will improve our overall performance, based on risk and operational demand. Horsham and Littlehampton will both then have two fire engines - one crewed 24hr as an immediate response and one crewed by retained firefighters.

Outcome: Improves Service performance by more effective use of resources.

Proposal: Introduce group crewing model at immediate response stations
This new crewing system maintains a 24hr immediate response capability and requires three fewer firefighters on each station. Group crewing would replace the current four 'watch' system and firefighters would continue to work a 42hr week, with a mix of both day and night shifts.

Where: Bognor, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Worthing.
Outcome: No reduction in Service performance

Proposal: Remove the second fire engines at Midhurst, Petworth and Storrington, leaving one fire engine and 4x4 vehicle at each station
These two-pump stations are crewed by retained firefighters in rural areas with fewer property fires and low levels of operational demand for the second fire engine.

The table shows the total number of incident mobilisations at each of these stations, including the number attended by the second fire engine. Figures are based on latest available data.

Total incidents attended by station 2012-13 Incidents attended by 2nd fire engine at station
Midhurst 214 - 28
Petworth 202 - 28
Storrington 208 - 20

The second fire engine is often not crewed due to an insufficient number of retained firefighters being available.

In addition to the 'standard' fire engine, these stations each have a 4x4 response vehicle with capacity to carry up to five firefighters.

The number of firefighters at these stations would not be reduced under this proposal. If an incident required additional firefighters they could proceed in the 4x4 vehicle to support the first crew and use the equipment already there. A second fire engine would also be mobilised from an adjacent station.

This gives more flexibility when getting firefighters to the scene of an incident. At present a standard fire engine must have a minimum crew of four before it can be mobilised, meaning some retained fire engines are often unavailable to attend incidents, especially during the day.

Outcome: Frees up resources with minimal impact on performance and improves flexibility for getting firefighters to scene of incident .

Proposal: Closure of retained unit and removal of third fire engine at Crawley, leaving two fire engines, a Heavy Rescue Tender and a 4x4 vehicle
Crawley fire station has two fire engines crewed by wholetime firefighters providing an immediate response, and a third fire engine crewed by retained firefighters. A Heavy Rescue Tender and a 4x4 vehicle are also based there to provide additional cover for special service incidents.

The third fire engine attends a comparatively low numbe of calls. Figures shown illustrate latest available data.

Incidents attended Incidents attended Incidents attended Incidents attended
by station 2012-13 by 1st fire engine by 2nd fire engine by 3rd fire engine
1950 659 1233* 58
*The second fire engine is the first appliance mobilised to attend incidents that require one fire engine

There has been a reduction in the number of emergency incidents requiring a third fire engine and, at times, this engine is often not crewed due to an insufficient number of retained firefighters being available.

The ten retained firefighter posts at Crawley would be removed from our establishment under this proposal.
Outcome: Resources more proportionate to risk and Service performance.

Proposal: Implement revised day crewing model at four stations
This crewing system would maintain an immediate response capability during the core day-time hours. The standard station establishment will be seven, meaning a combined reduction of ten firefighter posts across four stations. Crews would revert to a standard 42hr rather than the current 45hr working week and no longer receive additional remuneration for extra hours worked. Community safety work would be undertaken as it is at other fire stations.

Where: Shoreham, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, East Grinstead

Outcome: Changes to delivery of community safety work, maintains response standards at reduced cost.

Proposal: Increase operational capacity and support for communities in flooding and severe weather
Instances of widespread flooding or severe weather have increased expectations on fire and rescue services and we have a key role in preparing and responding to these emergencies.

We propose to invest an initial 220k in additional specialist equipment and training to improve our capability to support communities before, during, and when recovering from flooding and weather-related disruption. This capability will be reviewed and supported through further investment in future years.

Outcome: Improved capability for preparing for, responding to and supporting the recovery from flooding and severe weather related events.


Proposal: Reductions in management and administrative support
We will continue to seek cost saving efficiencies in these functions by reviewing and rationalising our organisational structure to realise potential reductions in management and administrative roles. We will also explore all other options for provision of these services, including commissioning and collaboration with other emergency services or partners.

Outcome: Reduced costs in management and administrative functions.

Proposal: Utilise additional trained staff to improve operational resilience
Firefighters can carry out a number of different roles during the course of their career and this often means moving away from frontline operational duties based at fire stations, for example working in training or business fire safety. As a result we have a small number of qualified staff whose primary role does not directly involve operational duties and whose skills could be used to provide additional support during busy operational periods.

We propose to utilise these resources to boost operational resilience in the event of a major incident, in times of severe weather with multiple calls, or protracted incidents. Staff would be mobilised and use spare appliances or those already at the incident.


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