Fire service in jobs cuts plan

Review: Lancashire Fire and Rescue needs to save an estimated �10m by 2016
Review: Lancashire Fire and Rescue needs to save an estimated �10m by 2016
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Fire service jobs will be axed as part of a battle to save £10m over the next three years, it can be revealed.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue team briefing report, seen by the Evening Post, shows 33 posts within the service are set to be scrapped following cuts to Government funding.

Some of the roles are already vacant, but around a quarter have people working in posts which have now been identified as redundant.

The internal report says employees affected by the move, understood to be mostly within the service’s headquarters in Fulwood, have been informed.

In addition, all support staff will be offered the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy or reduced working hours if they wish.

Trade union chiefs have already described the cuts to the fire service’s funding as “unsustainable” and branded any reduction in emergency cover as having the potential to put lives at risk.

The report admits frontline services are unlikely to escape unscathed.

It states: “Despite focusing our initial reviews on back office functions, most of our resources are concentrated in fire engines, fire stations and fire-fighting staff and we are not able to make £10m savings without doing something differently with these resources.

“The savings we need to make from the emergency cover review will be more than just rolling out ‘day crewing plus’ (with reduced on-duty hours) across more stations. A reduction in posts, appliances and crewing patterns can’t be ruled out.

“While protecting the public is our priority, we will need all parts of the organisation to contribute to efforts to overcome the most significant financial challenge we have ever faced.

“We can’t keep doing everything and carrying on as we are and still save £10m.”

The briefing says the service will aim to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible, adding: “We will seek to rely on natural wastage of staff and look to find voluntary solutions, wherever possible.” It also suggests £800,000 will be saved by moving from a whole time to day crew system at Morecambe and Nelson fire stations.

Chief fire officer Chris Kenny previously told the Evening Post: “Our immediate aim is to minimise any adverse impact on frontline services but this cannot continue indefinitely.

“However, we will continue to review of all parts of our organisation and will be doing this systematically to make sure we identify all opportunities to meet this most significant financial challenge.”

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman added: “We have a commitment to keep our staff fully informed and involved in our savings programme, with free and open discussion throughout the organisation coupled with thorough and regular briefings.”

Lancashire Fire Authority decided last week to freeze its portion of the council tax for the third year running.