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Fire Stations Staffing Review Prompts Protest

Changes to the way fire stations are staffed could lead to “catastrophic” increases in response times, according to the firefighters’ union.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority is considering crewing two urban stations in the day only, with firefighters based at home overnight.

The authority said changes were needed to improve response times in more rural areas.

Up to 50 people attended a rally at Rhyl Fire Station on Saturday arranged by the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU).

The Denbighshire station is currently staffed 24 hours a day, like Deeside station in Flintshire.

Under the plans, external, the authority is considering changing both stations to a “day staffing duty system” and provide daily cover at stations at Corwen in Denbighshire, and Porthmadog and Dolgellau, both in Gwynedd.

Stuart Stanley, chairman of the FBU in north Wales, said home-based firefighters could take up to 10 minutes longer to reach Rhyl and Deeside stations to respond to an overnight emergency.

“They’d have to travel to the station, be subject to the 20mph limit, would be subject to road conditions, speed limits, summer traffic in Rhyl,” he said.

“We’re looking at an increased response of up to 10 minutes which is absolutely catastrophic in a fire situation.”

The union has also claimed moving full-time staff to more rural stations would also undermine the role of on-call firefighters in those areas.

Tom Weston, watch manager at Rhyl Fire Station, said the coastal area has a number of risk factors which require swift night time cover.

“Our population doubles during the summer months,” he said.

“We have a lot of houses of multiple occupancy, a lot of large houses, and we also have a huge solar farm.

“We also have Ysbyty Glan Clwyd which is a major risk for us so having that quick response time is crucial for us and the public of Rhyl as well.”

The fire authority recently dropped reorganisation proposals which could have seen other stations close and jobs cut.

It decided to focus on changes to Rhyl and Deeside.

But the FBU wants the authority to accept another option and retain whole time station cover at both stations and increase rural cover without extra expense.

No final decision will be made until the next meeting of the fire authority on 18 December.

Source : BBC