Union fear over Devon and Somerset fire crew numbers

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Devon & Somerset firefightersImage source, IAN CAPPER
Image caption,
Fire engines are currently deployed with a minimum of four firefighters

Union leaders have criticised a fire service review which claims 70 per cent of incidents in Devon and Somerset require only two firefighters.

The statistic forms part of a report which will inform future changes to the service.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) disputed the claim which it fears will lead to fire engines having fewer than the "safe crew minimum" of four.

The service said the review did not mean crew numbers would be cut.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority is being asked to approve a draft risk management plan, which will be used to develop a "change and improvement" programme for the next three to four years.

James Leslie of the FBU in Devon and Somerset said the review was set against a backdrop of continuing funding cuts and there was no evidence to show that most incidents only needed two firefighters.

He said: "The FBU believes this claim is being made to justify fire engines attending incidents with less than the current safe crew minimum of four firefighters."

Assistant chief fire officer Pete Bond said: "We mobilise all our fire engines with a minimum of four people but there are a number of incident types that are recognised nationally that just don't require that level of resource.

"Equally, there are incidents that require more than four firefighters. So the statement that 70 per cent of incidents could be dealt with by two firefighters is true but that doesn't mean all of a sudden we'll crew all of our fire engines with two people."

The report said the details of the risk management plan were yet to be developed but it would have "a clear focus on the delivery of savings required" as well as "adding value through improved ways of working".

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