As you may know, there are plans to reduce the cover at Taunton Fire Station from two full-time crews to one full-time crew and one retained (on-call) crew in a lighter duty engine. Concerns have been raised, particularly by outlying communities covered by Taunton Fire Station. Bishops Lydeard and Cotford St Luke are both currently on the edge of the 13 minute response time. Under the new proposals, they both fall well outside that time zone and even a fair chunk of Norton Fitzwarren (currently entirely covered) would fall outside the 13 minute zone. It has also been suggested that the lighter duty engine to be operated by the retained crew is not able to deal with a house fire as it carries an inadequate number of fire-fighters. So upon arrival, there is not much that they could do until a second engine arrived.
The proposals place an increased reliance on retained crew, which poses a number of issues. Retained crews take longer to attend as they first have to get to the fire station before setting off on a call. There are already difficulties in recruiting retained staff and such difficulties are likely to be exacerbated as employers become increasingly reluctant to release their staff due to their increased use.
The Taunton Deane Core Strategy has given the greenlight for 17,000 new homes in Taunton Deane over the next 15 years. It seems folly to reduce fire cover as we stand on the brink of the largest expansion in the history of Taunton and it is not at all clear whether the proposed reductions in cover have even considered this issue.
The consultation on the proposed changes has been extended until 26th April 2013 so there’s still time to have your say. Follow the link http://www.dsfire.gov.uk/AboutUs/HaveYourSay/Index.cfm?siteCategoryId=2&T1ID=13
With thanks to Cotford St Luke Parish Council for some of the information in this post.