Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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Bold plans announced as Chief Fire Officer bites back against austerity

Bold plans announced as Chief Fire Officer bites back against austerity

Monday, 28 January 2019

Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan has announced plans to re-invest in our hard-pressed Fire & Rescue Service.

In plans he described as challenging but achievable, Chief Fire Officer Garrigan revealed previously unthinkable proposals to increase the number of available fire engines from 26 to 30, with equally bold proposals to increase the number of firefighters from 620 to 642. He also announced plans to recruit 60 firefighters this year in order to bolster the Service’s numbers.

His plans (which will be subject to public consultation) mean that the night-time fire cover at Liverpool City Fire Station and Wallasey Fire Station would be protected if implemented in full, an ambition he has held since taking on the role late last year.

Fire Authority members who unanimously supported the new proposals described them as a breath of fresh air. Members of the Fire Authority have had to oversee swingeing cuts to the Service over the last 10 years with no respite.

In his address to the Fire Authority on 24th January he described a repositioning of organisational risk which was not reliant on the realisation of unachievable government funding - rather the creative use of existing funding to protect the frontline.

He said he was extremely confident that his plans would make the Service more resilient and better able to respond to emerging risks - describing a specific focus on the heightened terrorist threat, high rise risk following the Grenfell Tower fire and marine risk given the increase in shipping utilising the River Mersey to access Liverpool Waters and the Cruise Liner Terminal.

He also confirmed his commitment to invest in the Service’s infrastructure and training facilities whilst maintaining Merseyside’s world renowned prevention services.

When asked how he would find the money to deliver these changes he said: “By thinking differently.”

The Chief Fire Officer went on to say: “I joined Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service almost 29 years ago, spending many years fighting fires and responding to life threatening incidents in some of our most deprived communities so I know how important these additional resources will be. Not reinvesting was never really an option, it was more a matter of how.

“Having exhausted all attempts to secure additional in-year funding and not wishing to increase council tax bills via a referendum, I have had to re-position risk. I fully understand that the proposals will require us to innovate, but subtle changes to the way we operate will result in more fire engines and more firefighters – that is the most important thing to me right now.

“It is my job to worry about the money so my firefighters and my protection and prevention teams can get on with theirs - we have some truly fantastic people who will make our communities safer as a result of this investment.

“I have shared my financial plans with the Fire Authority and I know I can deliver them - even if they may cause me to have one or two sleepless nights along the way.

“And rest assured I will continue to press the Government for further funding - that fight has only just begun.”

In closing the CFO thanked the Fire Authority, Merseyside MPs, Mayors Anderson and Rotheram and the rest of the City Region Leaders for supporting his plans and his lobbying of Government - stating that the plans he was putting forward would make the people of Merseyside safer which was why he joined the Service in the first place. He went on to say it was time to look to the future not the past.

He finally asked for some patience, stating that some of the changes would take time to fully implement as they were reliant on recruitment and growth but recruit they would, people from Merseyside who truly reflect the diverse communities we have the privilege to serve.

The new proposals represent a change from the plans contained within the current Integrated Risk Management Plan and as such, they will be subject to full consultation.

For free fire safety advice or to request a Home Fire Safety Check, call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over or those referred by partner agencies.

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