Essex County Consultation Promotes Fire Safety Measures
A consultation by Essex County Fire & Rescue Service proposes £3 million to be spent on fire prevention and protection measures, but also a cut of firefighter jobs.
A consultation by the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service is currently underway to discuss the future of between 138 to 234 firefighter jobs in the county. The service is committed to saving £15 million by 2020 and believes that axing these frontline jobs is the best way to do so.
Prevention And Protection
The reason that Essex County feels able to reduce their firefighter headcount is because their figures prove that the amount of emergency callouts has halved over the space of a decade. This is largely attributed to the success of their fire prevention and protection efforts. Such work includes the Essex Fire and Rescue Service’s Home Safety Visit scheme. This operation involved home visits to more than 8,900 Essex residences in 2015 to fit smoke alarms. Property rentals were also protected with 4,500 smoke alarms and 1,400 carbon monoxide detectors being supplied to landlords across the county.
Options For Change
The twelve-week public consultation which opened on the 1st February includes three models which each suggest how the fire service could potentially work. These aim to balance out critical factors such as prevention, protection and response to incidents, whilst remaining a financially sustainable operation.
Although the three options for change do differ, they all contain similar elements which include an extra £3 million investment in fire prevention and an additional cost saving of over £2 million from support functions. Most importantly there are no fire stations that are scheduled for closure, ensuring that all areas of the county remain fully protected even with a reduction in crew numbers.
The service is committed to avoiding redundancies where possible and hopes to reduce the number of firefighters through natural wastage, redeployment, early retirement and voluntary redundancy. Compulsory redundancies will only occur as a last resort if unavoidable.
Spreading The Word
Essex County Fire & Rescue Service will continue to spread the invaluable message of how to prevent fires from happening. They want to visit every school child in the county at years 3, 7 and 8 to provide them with safety advice. The service also plans to install a smoke alarm in every household in Essex. Worryingly, there are still 90,000 Essex homes without a working alarm and residents living in these households are 3 times as likely to die in a fire as a result of this negligence.
Members of the public also have a responsibility to themselves to carry out basic protection measures in their own homes and workplace. Homeowners, particularly those with families, should create an evacuation plan and have a clear idea of how they would protect and remove their children from the building in an emergency.
Business owners and managers also have a responsibility towards their employees. All staff should undergo training and be given clear instructions on what to do in the event of a fire. Ample fire exit signs are vital in business premises – they should be clearly labelled at every available exit door.
There is still time for Essex residents to contribute to the consultation which is open until the 25th April. Visit the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service to have your say.