Page 19 - HOT NEWS MARCH 2014
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Fire appliances and firefighter number have reducued significantly in recent years but fire station numbers have remained the same. That clearly has to change.
The Authority has confirmed that to make the operational savings four station mergers will have to take place, three of which have been identified as Huyton/Whiston at Prescot, Upton/West Kirby at Greasby and Eccleston/St Helens at St Helens Town Centre.
A fourth merger has still to be identified but it will most likely be in South Liverpool. All these measures are subject to detailed consultation and rely on being able to find suitable station site locations. As a result, I have been given some flexibility in the process as in areas such as Greasby suitable sites are very limited.
I have publicly stated that these are the least worst options. The other alternatives to make the savings are outright station closures or changing crewing to LLAR or retained.
Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme JESIP
The Fire and Rescue Authority confirmed last month a two-year financial plan based on the Government spending announcement covering the period up to and including 2015/16.
I have presented on much of the detail of the financial plan at previous staff meetings but it is important now decisions have been taken to explain exactly how we intend to move forward.
The authority has set the precept a fraction under 2% which is the maximum allowed by Government without the need to hold five referendums.
This requires us to make a further saving of £6.3 million. Since 2010 we have had a 35% cut in our Government Grant – the highest of FRS in the country.
The budget cuts will be made firstly from support services and this, I’m sorry to say, will place a number of staff at risk of redundancy. There will be further savings assumed from the cost of debt repayments and continued assumptions around pay restraint. We are assuming that these measures will save £2.9 million.
This still requires a further £3.4 million from frontline operational services.
On a much more positive note, Merseyside will host and organise a major national operational exercise on behalf of the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) in September.
JESIP focuses on the fire, police and ambulance interoperability in the event of a major or complex incident. It intends to provide service commanders with a framework to enable them to respond together as effectively as possible.
This exercise will be the largest since Orion in 2010 and will be a very real test for the three blue light services and, of course, an opportunity to test our new Joint Command and Control Centre facilities at Bridle Road.
To make it as realistic as possible, the actual scenario will not be made known and the exercise will be run as ‘no notice’ as possible in the circumstances.
Dan Stephens
Chief Fire Officer

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