FIRE BRIGADES UNION SAY NO TO FIRE CUTS IN WEYMOUTH! The Fire Brigades Union is fighting against potentially devastating cuts in Fire cover at Weymouth Fire station. The proposals have been put forward by the Dorset Fire Authority and involve: • Removing completely a Fire Engine; • Getting rid of 16 full time Firefighters at the Station; • Reducing the Aerial Ladder appliance from its current immediate response status to being crewed by personnel who would respond from home. Weymouth is an expanding seaside resort of 56,000 people, although the population can treble during the holiday season. There are a great many multi-storey older style hotels within a high density town centre, a large harbour with a cross-channel ferry service, plus a substantial residential area. This makes it a substantial fire risk which was reflected by previous decisions to have a full time Fire Station with 3 Fire Engines and other special appliances including a vital aerial appliance. The town will also host the sailing events during the 2012 Olympic Games. Weymouth Fire Station is the only whole time station in West Dorset and the aerial ladder platform is one of only two in the county. Fire cover in Weymouth was previously reduced in 1996 when the Fire Authority permanently removed 16 full time Firefighter posts. This latest proposal will reduce the wholetime establishment by a further sixteen, leaving just four watches of seven whole time Firefighters to crew a pump, two special rescue units and an operational support unit. Dorset Fire Authority claims these reductions are necessary due to an increase in the number of deaths in dwelling fires in Dorset - nine in 2007/2008. The Authority wants to redeploy up to twenty-four Firefighters into non-operational roles fitting smoke alarms and carrying out Home Fire Risk Assessments. Plans have also been announced to close the existing fire station in Weymouth and replace it with a new community fire station outside the town centre. The Fire Authority insists that the proposals have nothing to do with cost, but a briefing paper presented to the Fire Authority when it met on 25 September 2008 stated, "The major issue around the removal of the third pump is the additional £250,000 that would be required to accommodate it in the new station, money that would otherwise be available for community facilities." At an FBU meeting on 7 October, attended by almost every Firefighter at Weymouth the meeting voted unanimously to oppose the plans and to mount a determined public and political campaign to force the Fire Authority to see sense and throw these dangerous proposals out. The Firefighters were also mindful of the FBU's recent research that showed: • Between 1997 and 2006 Firefighters in Dorset rescued 431 people from fires and, • Between 1996/7 and 2005/6 carried out rescues at 1126 road traffic collisions. Whilst the Weymouth Firefighters supported community safety initiatives, they expressed the view that these should not be conducted at the expense of front line emergency resources. They also insisted that if the proposed new community fire station could not meet the operational requirements of the 21st-Century fire and rescue service it should not be built at all. Dorset FBU Brigade Secretary Clem Stanley says: “We firmly believe that these proposals are ill judged and, if implemented will put the town and the people of Weymouth at risk. We urge the public to show their support for the Fire Service by joining with us and calling for the Fire Authority to reject these cuts out of hand. As Firefighters we know that in an emergency every minute counts. These cuts would reduce our ability to get the right number of Firefighters and Appliances to an incident as quickly as we do just know and the consequences could be devastating. Quite simply cuts cost lives.” Dorset Brigade Chair Martin Reed added: “The Chief Fire Officer wants to take Firefighters out of Fire Stations and put them into a Fire Safety team that would not respond to emergencies. This “robbing Peter to pay Paul” attitude is quite simply life threatening. If the Police were proposing to take Bobbies off the beat and put them behind a crime prevention desk there would quite rightly be a public outcry. We would urge the public to write to the Chief Fire Officer, local councilors and MP demanding that these plans be withdrawn. A day of public campaigning has provisionally been arranged for Saturday 18th October, when FBU members will speak to the public, issue leaflets and begin a petition. FBU members in Dorset have made it clear that they are very angry about the dangerous and badly thought-out plans and are determined to fight to force the Fire Authority to throw them out in spite of threats by fire service managers to subject FBU members to disciplinary action if they speak to the press." MEDIA CONTACT Clem Stanley (Brigade Secretary) 07917065874 Martin Reed (Brigade Chair) 07980356328 Say NO to the Cuts at Weymouth! To support the Firefighters at Weymouth please contact Dorset Headquarters and tell them you that you object to the plans for Cuts to Weymouth Fire Station. Contact can be done in one of the following ways: Emailing the Corporate Planning Manager at email@example.com Send a letter to Robert Ford, Corporate Planning Manager, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, Service Headquarters, Peverell Avenue West, Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 3SU. Phone to Robert Ford, Corporate Planning Manager on 01305 252600.