18th Dec, 2017

Fire chief says cuts will not hit service in Warwickshire

Leamington Editorial 24th Mar, 2014 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

WARWICKSHIRE’S chief fire officer believes budget cuts and job losses will not compromise the service’s effectiveness.

The announcement by Andy Hickmott on Monday (March 25) comes following the launch of a public consultation into how Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service can save £2.4million over the next four years.

He said: “Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is in a very good shape but like all progressive services we still want to and need to do better.

“We have closely examined the types of incidents, how we can best respond to them and how we can position the service to give the best response.

“I am confident the changes will mean we are better equipped to deal with life-threatening emergencies and make the people of Warwickshire safer.”

Current proposals to save £1.3 million in the first two years would see 30 full-time firefighter posts and five control room officers cut through retirement and non-replacement.

But chief Hickmott insisted the service’s efficiency would actually improve as a result of better organisation.

One of the key aims is to improve response times so 80 per cent of incidents are attended within ten minutes – a 16 per cent increase on the current standard.

As part of this, two new locations will be established from where fire crews can quickly deploy to ‘high-risk areas.’

Sites in Ryton and Gaydon being considered include the police training college, Coventry Airport and Jaguar Land Rover – the latter two of which are already equipped with firefighting facilities.

The service is also looking to have more full-time crews available during peak periods between 10am and 10pm.

The cost-cutting measures – part of the county council’s aim to save £92 million by 2018 – would also see support for the Young Firefighters’ Association withdrawn in November.

And smoke alarm installations would be reserved for the most vulnerable with non-frontline staff carrying out fittings.

Leamington group commander, Ian Tonner said: “We’re putting the community first – getting the right people to the right place at the right time.”

And community safety spokesman Coun Les Caborn added: “While we would not pretend the changes have not been driven in part by the need to make savings, we’re confident they will make the county safer for all of Warwickshire’s residents.”

The public consultation will be available online at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue for 12 weeks until June 20.

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