Innovative plans to increase the number of fire engines and create specialist fire stations across Merseyside have been unanimously approved.
The plans contained within Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s (MFRS) Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2021-24 represent a continued optimism for the Service after a lengthy period of cuts which has resulted in the loss of fire stations, fire engines and firefighters.
Bold plans put forward by Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan build on the Service’s previous IRMP and will see the number of fire engines increase from 29 to 31 (plus the Special Rescue Appliance) – the second increase in Merseyside’s fire engines in as many years.
A 12-week public consultation on the plans took place between 1st March and 24th May 2021, with the Fire & Rescue Authority giving their final seal of approval at a meeting on 30th June 2021.
The plans include:
- An increase of available fire engines from 29 (plus the Special Rescue Appliance) to 31 (plus the Special Rescue Appliance). This will be achieved through the expansion of the innovative hybrid duty system, a system first introduced by the Service in 2018 in order to protect night-time cover at Liverpool City and Wallasey Fire Stations.
- The merger of the stations at Aintree and Croxteth to create a super-station along with a new Training and Development Academy to be built on land at Long Lane, Aintree. A separate 12-week public consultation on this proposal will begin on 15th July 2021.
- The combination of the duty systems at Liverpool City and Kensington fire stations to create a Dual Station Hybrid – including a specialist command and control function
- The introduction of a High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) appliance at St Helens to replace the complementary crewed combined platform ladder. This type of appliance would allow us to fight all normal fires, but can also be used as a water tower and has a lance that can be used to pierce roof spaces or light industrial buildings
- The introduction of our drone (aerial) capability after being agreed in our previous IRMP. This capability will be managed by the Protection team and will also be used day to day to support their work auditing high risk premises.
As part of the plans, MFRS’ specialist appliances will move to locations where there is more likelihood of a particular type of risk occurring. This will create specialist capability fire stations and give firefighters extra training to ensure they have a higher level of knowledge about these risks and how to deal with them.
Further detail on the proposals and the location of specialist stations can be found in the IRMP 2021-24 here.
Cllr Les Byrom, Chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, said of the plans: “After years of relentless government cutbacks, it is refreshing to see such bold and innovative plans from our Chief Fire Officer to ensure we have the best possible fire and rescue service for the people of Merseyside. I applaud Chief Garrigan and thank everyone who took part in the public consultation. The Authority will continue to work closely with the Chief Fire Officer, officers, staff and representative bodies to oppose any further government budget cuts to ensure Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is able to continue to grow and the fire and rescue service that the people of Merseyside deserve.”
Speaking following the Authority’s approval, Chief Garrigan said: “I have no doubt in my mind that these plans will make us more resilient, more effective and quicker to respond, whilst ensuring we are equipped to meet the demands placed on a modern day fire and rescue service. I thank the Authority for recognising the importance of these changes and for helping us to protect the public of Merseyside now and in the future.
“I have spoken previously about my vision for the Service and I firmly believe we are the best fire and rescue service in the country with the very best people at our core. Whether they are answering 999 calls, attending incidents, fitting smoke alarms, delivering fire safety advice to residents and businesses, or working behind the scenes to keep our Service running, our staff are truly incredible.
“After what has been one of the most difficult years we as a country have ever faced – a year that has seen our staff go above and beyond to keep the public safe through extraordinary means – it is only right that we say enough is enough to years of cutbacks. Now is the time to usher in a period of renewed optimism and investment in resources that reflect the risks we face and the commitment and professionalism of our operational and support staff.”
Detail on the 12-week public consultation on the merger of Aintree and Croxteth fire stations, and the development of a new Training & Development Academy will be published soon.
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 those over 65 or meeting certain criteria.