Fire service jobs at risk ahead of budget cuts

Fire engines lined up outside Douglas Fire Station, Peel Road Douglas

Fire engines lined up outside Douglas Fire Station, Peel Road Douglas

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Up to 10 retained firefighters could be made redundant to meet future budget cuts.

Chief fire officer Kevin Groom said the decision to cut the number of part-time fire crews would be ‘very much a last resort’ – and was not something the service would choose if any other options become available.

But in a discussion document leaked to the Examiner he said: ‘The stark reality we face is that in the short and medium term we may no longer have the financial resources necessary to maintain our current firefighting establishment.’

The island’s Fire and Rescue Service will have reduced the number of full-time firefighters from 58 to 50 by April next year, and the number of retained firefighters from 111 to 107, by not replacing personnel when they retire. Some £1m has been saved through cost savings in the past five years.

Fire chiefs say the number of full-time officers, all based at Douglas fire station, cannot be reduced any further without a significant impact on frontline services.

The island’s fire stations at Laxey, Ramsey, Kirk Michael, Peel, Port Erin and Castletown are all manned by 16-17 retained firefighters. There are also eight part-time firefighters based at Douglas.

The senior management team say measures already taken should be enough to meet required savings targets this year and next. But if further budget cuts in 2016-17 make it necessary to reduce the number of retained crews, it will be done in a phased way.

Phase one will reduce one retained station to 12 personnel, meaning this station will only be able to provide one pump to an incident.

If further headcount losses are necessary, phase two will be see either another retained station reduced to 12 or each station, excluding one pump stations, cut by one member of staff. Depending on the scale of savings needs, it may be necessary to carry out both options.

Mr Groom notes that redundancy is an extremely sensitive issue and must be seen to be as fair as possible. The option of voluntary redundancy is being explored.

Last week the Fire and Rescue Service announced it is seeking to recruit a team of community volunteers to work alongside firefighters and support staff. Only in May it began recruiting both whole time and retained firefighters.

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