A wide range of options for the future delivery of fire and rescue services are set to be considered by West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA).
At their meeting in June, WMFRA members opted to withdraw contracts for new entrant firefighters as part of efforts to resolve a trade dispute.
The contracts would have supported West Midlands Fire Service’s plan to meet a £2m shortfall through alternative funding streams, such as providing falls response services to councils.
Authority members asked senior fire officers to present options at their meeting in September for the short and longer-term delivery of the Authority’s strategy, including potential associated budget adjustments.
More detailed reports have now been prepared for their 19 November meeting.
The latest papers outline wide-ranging options open to the Authority, together with projected financial savings. They also detail the potential impact on the service’s ability to deliver its response, protection and prevention work.
The report and supporting documents set out a range of options, including:
- how the service’s ‘blended’ fleet of fire engines and Brigade Response Vehicles might be configured and staffed to enable firefighters to continue to respond to incidents assertively, effectively and safely
- potential new shift patterns and working hours for firefighters
- the introduction of on-call (‘retained’) firefighters
- a management review.
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of WMFRA, said: “The Authority needs to meet a £3m shortfall in its Financial Efficiency Plan. We also need to invest in some of our support services as well as in our protection work, which is all the more critical following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
“On top of this, we are braced for further cuts from 2020 in the funding we get from the Government.
“The report to our meeting on 19 November details a range of options open to us. I anticipate that members will ask the service to narrow down those options even further for our meeting in February, at which we will set our budget for 2019/20.
“We’ve already had to reduce spending on the fire and rescue services we provide by £38m since 2011. This further cut makes it very difficult to carry on delivering our service. We will need to balance the budget, protect the service’s excellent five-minute attendance standard for serious incidents, and maintain the service’s best-ever performance standards.”
Please click here to read the full report online.