The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has lambasted a proposed five year plan for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) that is set to be voted on at this Friday's (16 February) fire authority meeting.
The FBU says that the draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’ (IRMP) and its consultation is flawed and misleading, and is calling on the DSFRS to either withdraw or amend it.
James Leslie, secretary of the FBU in Devon and Somerset, said: “This plan does not spell out to the public what will happen in the event of a dwelling fire, road traffic collision, flooding or any other type of incident we attend. The public have a right to know how Devon and Somerset plan to deal with these incidents, how many firefighters will attend and how quickly they will mobilise fire crews, arrive at an incident and respond.
"The plan falsely claims, with no evidence to back it up, that 70% of DSFRS incidents can be dealt with by only two firefighters. The FBU believes this ‘claim’ is being made to justify fire engines attending incidents with less than the current safe crew minimum of five firefighters.
"The backdrop to these worrying measures is one of continuing government cuts which, by 2022, will have cut central funding to the fire and rescue service by 50% from 2010, the most savage cuts in the history of the modern fire service. The plan also proposes to expand firefighters' role in emergency medical work (which is not a statutory fire service function, but an NHS responsibility) without any extra funding for this. The FBU believes this offers further justification for the proposed IRMP to be withdrawn."
Scott Young, chair for the FBU in Devon and Somerset, said: “There is not a single mention in the plan of the tragic and scandalous fire at Grenfell Tower last June, which has to be a wake-up call for building and fire safety regulation in this country. Any effective IRMP has to be based on what are called 'worst case planning scenarios'. This plan needs to be more focused on fire protection measures.
"Issues raised by Grenfell and through large fires in Devon and Somerset over the last few years have not been adequately addressed. This plan is not fit for purpose, and the FBU are asking the fire authority’s elected members to defer this draft and instruct DSFRS management to consult properly with the FBU. They need to work with us to come up with a better plan, which is clear and factually correct."