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Plans to close 8 fire stations & remove engines from others

Topsham, Budleigh, Ashburton and Colyton could go.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue says the service could undergo its most "significant" change for 50 years. 

There are a series of different proposals which will be considered by the Fire Authority next week, before being put to public consultation over the summer. 

Outlining the changes, the service says some stations attend only a handful of fires each year and have more resources than they need. Elsewhere, more resources are needed to improve the response the service can provide. They also need to save £8.4 million pounds over the next 3 years and say they want to work more on prevention. 

All the options would mean Devon loses smaller stations like Topsham, Colyton and Budleigh. 

These are the options the Authority will consider:

Option 1 – Station closures

Station closures at Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham* and Woolacombe. 
*Note: One appliance from Topsham will be relocated to Middlemoor.

Option 2 – Station closures and removal of third appliances

Option 1, plus: Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil Fire Stations all have three fire engines (two of which are crewed by ‘on call staff’). It is proposed that one of these ‘on call’ fire engines is removed from each of the four stations outlined.

Option 3 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances

Option 2, plus: Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes all have two fire engines. It is proposed that one of these fire engines is removed from each of the four stations outlined.

Option 4 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances and change of status to day crewing

Option 3, plus: Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton currently have whole time crew on these fire stations 24/7. It is proposed that the station still operates on a 24/7 basis but at night, the fire engines are crewed by ‘on call’ staff.

Option 5 – Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing and to on-call at night only

Option 4, plus: Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Wellington, Wells and Williton Fire Stations all have two fire engines. Rather than take away the second fire engine from these stations, it is proposed that the first fire engine is still crewed 24/7 with ‘on call’ staff but the second fire engine is crewed at night.

Option 6 - Station closures, removal of third and second appliances, change of status to day crewing, on-call at night only and introduction of day crewed roving appliances

Option 5, plus: It is proposed that six day-crewed fire engines (with trained Firefighters on the fire engine) are introduced which will be deployed in areas of forecasted high risk and/or where gaps in ‘on call’ cover is presented. These firefighters will undertake additional fire prevention visits and building fire protection inspections to help make people and buildings safer. They will be available to immediately respond to incidents and improve response times in the area located. Note: these 6 fire wholetime crewed (Full Time Equivalent) fire engines are in addition to the current wholetime fire stations that will be unaffected during the day. These existing wholetime fire stations are: Bridgwater, Taunton, Yeovil, Exeter (Danes Castle), Exeter (Middlemoor), Barnstaple, Torquay, Paignton, Plymouth (Crownhill), Plymouth (Greenbank), Plymouth (Camels Head). 

The service says many station are in the same place they were 50 years ago, but the risk has changed with new housing developments and road networks. It says it wants to ensure fire stations and fire engines are located to be in the right place to meet the demand.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: “We all know that the main way to save lives is to prevent fires from happening in the first place. As a Service, we have made great progress but we feel we can and should be doing more to make people and buildings safer. At the same time, we need to improve our ability to respond to emergencies and ensure we better match our resources to our risks. These proposals aim to do just that.

“We do understand that communities affected by these changes will want more information and we will be engaging with them in the coming months to listen to their views. This will also be a difficult time for the staff affected and we are committed to working with them to consider how we might provide options as we move forward.”

The proposals will be considered by Members of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority next week. Should the Authority agree, the proposals will then go forward for a 12 week public consultation from 1st July to the 20th September 2019.

There will be a number of ways in which the public can give their views, including a series of public drop-in exhibitions. Further information has been published on the website www.dsfire.gov.uk.

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