Page 19 - HOT NEWS_FEB_2015
P. 19

THE FINAL WORD
On the 29th of January, the Fire and Rescue Authority approved my recommendation to commence a 12-week public consultation process over the proposal to merge the existing Upton and West Kirby fire stations at a new fire station on Saughall Massie Road, as an alternative to the outright closure of West Kirby. Under this proposal one pump at the new station would be crewed wholetime and the second pump would be crewed wholetime retained on a 30-minute recall. The Authority have already approved an identical proposal for Knowsley, which will result in the merger of Huyton and Whiston at a new station in Prescot, with one pump crewed wholetime and one pump crewed wholetime retained also on a 30-minute recall.
The consultation process on the proposal to close Allerton fire station and relocate the pump to Old Swan to be crewed wholetime retained concluded on the 26th of January with the outcomes to be reported to the Authority on February 26 for them to make a definitive decision. Work is ongoing in St Helens to identify land on which to build a new station in the event that the proposal to merge St Helens and Eccleston is approved after a public consultation process.
It is my intention to take a report to the Authority on the 26th February to explain the interim measures I will take under delegated authority to maintain appliance availability post 1st of April. You will recall that, as the cuts take effect, the Authority has committed to using natural turnover rates amongst firefighters to make the savings and avoid compulsory redundancy. The Authority remain on track to
achieve this outcome but, in practical terms, it means that the next round of cuts take effect (in terms of available firefighters the Authority can afford to employ) before any of the structural changes, such as the building of new stations as a result of the merger proposals, are completed. In order to maintain appliance availability, it is my intention to crew 4 pumps on a wholetime retained basis. This affords the opportunity to introduce 24-hour shifts and
self rostering at up to 8 stations and is the subject of a collective agreement with the representative bodies.
A 24’s wholetime retained frequently asked questions (FAQs) section has been set up on the Portal and copies of the FAQs distributed to Watch Managers to provide further information.
In other developments, the Service has been praised following an assurance visit to audit the operational readiness of our National Resilience (NR) assets. The Service hosts an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team based at Croxteth, an Incident Response Unit (IRU) and Detection Identification and Monitoring (DIM) vehicle based at Kirkdale and a High Volume Pump (HVP) based at West Kirby.
The two-day assessment was carried out by Officers from the National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT).
Areas audited during the assurance visit included Operational Response, Command and Control, Mobilisation and support to the incident, Prior to call preparation, Monitoring and review, Integration of National Resilience capability and Multi-agency integrated response.
The assurance visit involved a series of interviews and observations of practical training over two days with various staff and Departments ranging from firefighter up to Principal Officer.
The findings of this assessment go well beyond a “clean bill of health” in regards to the NR assets hosted by the Service. The assurance visit also highlighted areas of notable practice in Merseyside where our staff are leading the way not least within Fire Control who very much impressed our NRAT colleagues with the extent of their knowledge.
The findings of the assessment are exceptional. Merseyside are viewed as very much at the forefront of matters regarding National Resilience which, from a political perspective, is very helpful indeed as we continue to lobby in advance of the spending review for the next Parliament, which will begin in earnest after the General Election in May.
Last but not least, I would like to welcome our new group of apprentices who have joined our Service and wish them the best of luck for this year.
Dan Stephens
Chief Fire Officer
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