PLANS to get rid of Bracknell’s retained fire crew and an engine have been put to a public consultation.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking residents for their thoughts during a 12-week debate which began on Monday.
It is considering a proposal to disband the retained fire crew at Bracknell, leaving just the one full-time crew, and remove one of the two fire engines based there.
Acting assistant chief fire officer, Andy Mancey, said the move could save the fire service up to £120,000 a year.
He said: “At the moment, we have both wholetime and retained firefighters and two fire engines at Bracknell. The wholetime fire engine attended 691 incidents last year and the retained fire engine attended five incidents.
“Since Wokingham be-came a wholetime fire station, its fire engine can get to most incidents in the Bracknell area more quickly than Bracknell’s retained fire engine and so Bracknell’s retained fire en-gine is required less often.” Retained firefighters can have other jobs but are expected to attend incidents when called out.
Mr Mancey said: “We have also struggled to recruit retained firefighters in Bracknell and the number of retained firefighters there has fallen to six – well below the full complement of 13.
“Despite our efforts to recruit more, only two retained firefighters have joined Bracknell fire station in the last two years. This is unsustainable because it means we cannot rely on the retained fire engine being available to attend incidents – last year, it was unavailable about 87% of the time.
“This means we have had to use fire engines from other fire stations, particularly the new wholetime station in Wokingham, although this has not adversely affected our incident response.
“The annual budget allocation for the retained fire engine and crew at Bracknell is £120,000 and we believe this money could be used more effectively elsewhere within the service.” Detailed consultation information is available on the RBFRS website at www.rbfrs.co.uk or hard copies may be requested at email@example.com The consultation will include a public and a stakeholder forum in August, for Bracknell residents and stakeholders, together with a RBFRS staff consultation. The results will be reported to Royal Berkshire Fire Authority in November.
What do you think of the plans? Please add your comments below. Firefighters are set to strike on Thursday, July 10, between 10am and 7pm, as part of their ongoing dispute with the Government regarding pay and pensions.