26 January 2015
Concerns are growing about the the future of Stroud’s fire and rescue service as public consultation over Gloucestershire County Council’s (GCC) three year plan for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) comes to an end.
GCC says that GFRS resources have remained constant over the past 10 years but the number of incidents attended has ‘fallen dramatically’. It adds that the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2015-2018, which sets out how to provide ‘an efficient service, improve your safety and remain cost effective’, is ‘an ideal opportunity to match resources to demand when the facts support that approach’.
But the plan has prompted worries that provision in Stroud, which has its own fire station and two vehicles, could be cut.
Stroud’s county councillor, Sarah Lunnon, says she fears that the consultation is just the first step: “This is the start of a process and they are going to start looking at the viability of individual fire stations,” she said. “I don’t want there to be any changes to Stroud’s fire station provision.”
Mike Tully, Gloucestershire branch secretary for the Fire Brigades Union said the service is already stretched. “They are going to carry out a review of operational response and we have tried to get information about any possible reduction of brigades,” he said.
“Our main concern is that the council is going to structure the service to meet demand, but you can’t apply that to the fire service, it’s about the response not demand. Any further cuts would be bound to have an impact on how we respond to risk.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for GCC said: “Although GFRS is one of the highest performing and lowest cost services in the country, it needs to make sure that it remains fit for purpose against a backdrop of changing demand.”
Plans are to be published in April 2015.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.