HEANOR: Fire station is safe for now

Heanor Fire Station.
Heanor Fire Station.

Heanor fire station has been spared the axe for now - though the county’s top fire officer has warned he cannot meet budget cuts without closing fire stations.

The fire service had previously proposed closing 19 stations across the county, including Heanor, Crich and Alfreton, in a bid to save £4.4 million over the next three years.

After a public backlash the plans were scrapped at a meeting of the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority on Thursday.

But chief fire officer Sean Frayne said changes needed to be made in order to meet the pressure of impending £4.4million spending cuts.

Addressing the authority, he said: “We have to accept that we need to reduce the size of this organisation to fund the people we have.

“I don’t believe we can sustain 31 fire stations, but what we can do is change the duty systems of these stations.”

At the meeting the authority mooted the possibility of closing Ripley, Crich and Alfreton stations to relocate Ripley’s to the A38 junction.

However a press release issued by the fire service after the meeting seemed to contradict Mr Frayne’s earlier statement by declaring stations would only be closed ‘as a last resort’.

Over the course of a 12–week public consultation, 984 surveys were returned to the fire service with the majority of respondents opposed to the closure of fire stations.

Fire chief Frayne said: “We have taken into account what members of the community have said to us and we have factored that in. There are some things that we can achieve and there are some things that we can’t.”

Members agreed to the following outcome proposals –

– Set up a working group to monitor the implementation of proposals.

– To reduce the requirements for the number of existing uniformed and support roles and manage the reduction in a sensitive manner to avoid compulsory redundancies over the next two years.

– To maintain the recently built stations and look at station closures as a last resort.

– To apply the authority’s financial reserves to fund ‘Invest to Save’ projects as the number of roles reduces.

– To continue discussions with neighbouring fire and rescue services on the provision of ‘over the border’ services to Derbyshire before making any decision on the closure of stations close to the border.

– To support the introduction of Smaller Response Vehicles as a more appropriate response to risk.

– To continue discussions with other organisations to explore opportunities in respect of maximising use of assets in its property portfolio.

– To develop opportunities for more effective working through shared services.

– To continue to explore opportunities to maximise income for the service.

– To reduce mobilisations to non–emergency incidents.

– To continue to invest in prevention and protection activities.

– To continue to challenge all areas across the service to ensure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in provision.