North Wales Fire Authority to cut 36 posts by 2013
Up to 36 fire fighter jobs will be lost in north Wales under plans approved by the fire services governing body.
North Wales Fire and Rescue authority voted to change the rota system in an attempt to save £1m by spring 2013.
The option to change the rota system was one of several on the table, including closing some fire stations and running fewer fire engines.
The cuts are part of a wider programme which has already seen support staff reduced.
The service currently has around 280 full-time firefighters and 556 part-time firefighters, a total of 836 posts.
Chief fire officer Simon Smith told a meeting of the authority in Caernarfon on Monday that the only way that the service could save enough money was to cut the number of frontline firefighters.
He said: "No-one wants to be in the position we're in.
"I am extremely resentful at having to make these cuts as chief officer. But what you have before you is the least worst option."
The fire service said the savings being made would ensure the public should not see a reduction in the level of service, and would avoid fire station closures.
The move follows the £500,000 worth savings achieved through cutting operational manager posts by 20%, and a reduction in support staff by 7%, saving £174,000.
Deputy chief fire officer Dawn Docx told members that changes to the rota system were being recommended because they enabled the fire service to make the savings without closing fire stations or reducing the number of fire engines.
She said: "None of these options is particularly palatable, but it is important that everyone is aware of the consequences of each one.
"All of them come with the consequence of a reduction in posts, but some also come with the consequence that the public will see - or perceive - a reduction in service in their area.
"It will mean changes in working practices, but it will mean we can still have the required number of people on each fire engine when needed."
Anglesey councillor Aled Morris Jones, vice chairman of the authority, said: "I support the recommendation. No-one wants to face redundancies, but rota changes are the least worst option."
Gwynedd councillor Trevor Roberts added: "It is a serious matter. Talk about redundancies horrifies me.
"The good thing is that we have good relations with the unions here in north Wales. It is the least worst of all options but I really don't think that we as an authority have a choice."
But Conwy councillor Philip Evans said: "It does look as if not an awful lot of suggestions have come forward on whether we can tease out more savings among the back office staff."
Four other options before the authority included reducing the number of appliances across the region, with the loss of up to 111 posts.
The recommendation to proceed with rota changes was approved by 13 votes to zero with two abstentions.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority said the fire service revenue budget had been frozen at £32m until March 2014, which meant that savings of £2.4m needed to be made across the entire service.
Councillor Sharon Frobisher, the fire authority's chair, said: "These are difficult times but we are committed to delivering the highest possible emergency response standards and prevention programmes.
"Public safety is paramount and our priority is to minimise any impact on the level of services provided by the fire and rescue service."