VIEWS on controversial proposals which could result in Barnsley’s firefighter numbers being slashed are being sought by fire service chiefs.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is calling on people to have their say on how it plans to meet a financial shortfall of up to £4m, with a draft outlining proposals to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine.
The changes could see the number of firefighters manning an appliance reduced from five to four, resulting in the potential loss of 83 jobs across the county.
Fire bosses say the only alternative to making the change – which has already been adopted by many other services nationwide – is to reduce the speed of its 999 response during the night-time period from up to half of its stations.
Deputy chief fire officer, Alex Johnson, said: “We would rather not make any changes at all, but have a duty to match our resources to local risk and to manage the service in a financially responsible way. We face pressures of up to £4m and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our service to the public.
“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine than it is to slow down our response times to some of our communities by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available. Now we are publishing our draft plans and invite the public to share their views on them.”
The organisation faces cost pressures, it says, due to no longer being able to use a way of staffing fire stations – called close proximity crewing – and because it may have to meet a ‘significant’ national shortfall in pension contributions.
People can share their views via an online survey, at www.syfire.gov.uk/haveyoursay, or in writing to IRMP Consultation, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, 197 Eyre Street, Sheffield, S1 3FG.
Once the consultation period has ended and feedback has been considered, Fire Authority members will make the final decision on the proposals.