LANCASHIRE fire service has proposed reducing Skelmersdale’s fire station’s capacity.
The consultation document proposed reducing the fire station’s capacity from a four watch (crew) duty system to two.
The fire service has said that day crewing will allow the station to retain its ability to provide emergency cover.
The day crewing system, which has already been introduced at Penwortham and St Annes, relies on crews providing standby cover during their working week.
The scheme relies on firefighters sleeping on site, and responding to emergencies as they happen.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kenny, said: “The benefits of day crewing plus are significant and sustainable, offering reduced staffing costs year-on-year, having a beneficial impact on keeping council tax bills as low as possible, with absolutely no reduction in the service provided to the public, response times since the introduction of the system remaining excellent.
“At the core of the crewing system, of course, are the firefighters themselves and their support, such that we had more applications for places than we had vacancies.
“The reports from our day crewing plus stations have been very encouraging indeed and a model for considering implementing the crewing arrangement at other fire stations.”
Steve Harman, Fire Brigade Union’s Lancashire secretary said: “At this stage this remains a proposal, and one of several options.
“However, the FBU is campaigning against the government’s savage cuts to Lancashire Fire Service’s budget.
“We are facing cuts of around £5m, possibly reaching £8.8m.
“These cuts will put lives at risk.
“We are also concerned about day crewing, which can result in crews working 84 hour weeks.
“We object to it when there are so many young people in Lancashire unemployed and looking to join the fire service.”
Councillor Kevin Wright (Lab) said: “Of all the cuts we are enduring as a town the reduction in service of a vital emergency service cannot be accepted - Skelmersdale Fire Station is simply too busy.
County Councillor David O’Toole, (Con) who chairs Lancashire’s fire authority, said: “The day watch scheme works, is efficient and allows firefighters to earn more money. It has been tried and tested at other stations in the county.
“Not one fire station has closed in Lancashire since I became chair of the authority in 2009. I think that some people are simply scaremongering.”
To view the consultation document go to www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/prap2012