South Yorkshire fire engine crews ‘could be reduced from five to four’
The number of firefighters on-board fire engines serving South Yorkshire could be reduced from five to four in a cost-cutting measure.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority is considering the move as the the service needs to find up to £4 million a year from its annual budget.
The governing body stressed the only alternative to making the change from five to four is to reduce the speed of its 999 response during the night time period from up to half of its fire stations.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “We’d rather not make any changes at all, but have a duty to match our resources to local risk and to manage the service in a financially responsible way.
“We face cost pressures of up to £4 million and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our 999 service to the public.
“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine, than it is to slow down our response times by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available.
“Our fire engines already attend incidents with four firefighters about a third of the time- and many other UK fire services already ride with four as a norm.”
The service said the multi-million pound shortfall is because it is no longer able to use a way of staffing fire stations called ‘close proximity crewing’.
This staffing method was last year declared unlawful after the Fire Brigades Union took the case to the High Court.
The shifts meant firefighters could work 96 hours of continuous duty, with nights spent at their station.
A judge ruled the shift system breached EU Working Time Regulations
The fire service added that it is also looking at different options because it may have to meet a significant, national shortfall in pension contributions.
Reducing the number of firefighters in engines is included in an Integrated Risk Management Plan, which will be considered by fire authority members at a meeting on Monday, April 8.
If approved, the plans will then be consulted on with members of the public.