Changes set for crews at Dunmow Fire Station

Fire Station Dunmow

Fire Station Dunmow - Credit: Archant

Firefighters at Dunmow Fire Station could be set for changes under new county-wide restructuring plans announced yesterday (January 6).

In the proposals, Dunmow will go from being day crewed – with firefighters on the station Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and on-call at weekends – to a full-time on-call crewing system, which will mean no permanent presence at the Stortford Road base.

The station will retain two appliances on-site with Dunmow being the only base in the county guaranteed to have a Pinzgauer off-road vehicle replaced with a fire engine in the changes.

This is due to the importance of the second appliance in hitting response times in rural areas.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has put forward three sets of proposals in a bid to bring the brigade’s operational structure up-to-date, which runs alongside a fall in fires and a shift to other types of calls.

The fire service plans include a county-wide reduction of more than 230 full-time firefighters.Acting chief fire officer Adam Eckley said: “A change was made in 2010-11 to introduce a day crew at Dunmow, and it has been successful, but the incident levels are not high enough to justify keeping it so we are reverting it back to two pumps on-call.

“Wherever possible we will look to deliver the changes through natural wastage, early retirement and voluntary redundancy, but I cannot guarantee there will not be compulsory redundancies. If I can avoid it I will, I have no ambition to make people redundant.

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“We will respond with the nearest appliance as quickly as possible, and we are managing risk in a different way. Investment in protection and prevention does save lives.”

Riccardo La Torre, of the Essex Fire Brigades Union, said: “We’re disappointed. We understand and appreciate that savings have to be made, but what is being proposed in the county is unnecessary and far greater than is needed.

“These are massive savings and massive changes that we are being asked to make and realistically redundancies look likely.

“We do accept the financial implications of central government cuts but we do not accept unnecessary savings, unnecessary risks to the public through cuts in front line services and unnecessary redundancies.”

Mayor of Dunmow, Councillor Barrie Easter, who is a former firefighter, said: “I think it’s a good thing. I’d like to see it go back to an on-call system at Dunmow.

“It does not make sense to have firefighters with nothing to do for several days a week. Going on-call will save money and I also think that due to retained firefighters living in the area, they have more of an interest in the town in which they work and protect.”

Essex Fire Authority meets next Wednesday to decide whether to approve the options put forward going out to consultation.

If it does, a 12-week public consultation will begin in early February, with the fire authority then making a final decision in June.

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