May 2nd, 2011 |
What’s Happening With Our Fire Service?
The Essex Fire service seem to be considering replacing the full-time fire crews at Rayleigh Weir with part-timers.
To quote from the Echo last Tuesday:
Essex Fire and Rescue Service deputy fire chief Adam Eckley….. has now revealed more stations with full-time crews across the county could be manned solely by retained crews…….
……. Mr Eckley said pounds could be saved by changing stations from full-time to retained.
He added: “An average retained station costs around £110,000 a year.
“The lowest one is £50,000 and the most expensive one is £300,000.
“Rayleigh Weir, a whole time, four watch system, costs just over £1million a year. It would save us about £900,000 if we turned that pump from whole time to retained.”
Yet back in 2009, when the old fire stations at Rayleigh and Hadleigh were closed, the whole big ‘selling point’ to the public was that having fulltime crews at Rayleigh Weir would compensate for having one station instead of two. . To quote from onlineFOCUS September 16th 2009:
Representatives from the Fire Service explained the reasoning behind closing Hadleigh and Rayleigh Fire Stations and replacing them by one station at Rayleigh Weir. The existing stations used by retained (=part-time) firemen who had to live within 5 minutes of their station. The new station would have full-time firemen ready at the station, so the average times for answering calls would be reduced.
The implications are that two years ago we had two stations staffed by part-timers, we now have one full-time station, and could now end up with just one station staffed by part-timers…….
There’s also a financial point. The Essex Fire and Rescue Authority collect about £818,000 from Rayleigh residents this year. (for those interested in council tax calculations, that’s based on 12,321.66 band D equivalents @ £66.42 each)
We don’t have the figures for Hadleigh handy, but surely the council tax given to the Essex Fire and Rescue Authority from Rayleigh + Hadleigh combined must be quite a bit higher than the cost of running Rayleigh Weir as a full-time fire station. So why shouldn’t the residents of Rayleigh and Hockley get what they pay for?