Community fire safety work is under review

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COMMUNITY safety work carried out by South Yorkshire’s fire service is under review as part of a new 22-point action plan drawn up by bosses to save £4.7 million over the next two years, The Star can reveal.

The action plan, which also includes the suggestion that some services could be outsourced, is a more detailed document following on from a seven point plan already revealed by the fire service which outlined the possibility of closing fire stations and axing firefighters to cut costs.

Between now and 2015 fire chiefs in South Yorkshire have to find up to £10 million in savings.

The new plan lists a series of areas which will be reviewed over the next two years and states that all existing community safety work will be reviewed and “where appropriate” new initiatives could be introduced and others amended or withdrawn.

It suggests volunteers and partner agencies could be used more to deliver community safety activities.

Bosses told The Star they would ensure changes had a minimum effect on the services provided to the public and that targeted home safety checks - where smoke alarms are fitted free of charge - will still be carried out.

A consultation period has now been launched, and the public are asked to give their views on the action plan by July 1.

The latest plan says fire chiefs will be reviewing the locations of all fire stations in the county, with a view to “upgrading” or “consolidating existing buildings”.

It says the aim of the review is to make “more efficient use of resources whilst maintaining a high level of response to emergencies”.

The plan does not suggest which fire stations may be at risk of closure.

The plan also confirms the provision of all frontline fire appliances will be reviewed as well as “all frontline staffing arrangements”.

Staffing levels in the fire service’s control room - where employees answer 999 calls - are also to be looked at, it says.

The plan also suggests more partnership working and the outsourcing of some services.

Bosses stress their priorities are “making people safer,” “responding to emergencies effectively and safely,” “valuing people” and “maximising efficiency” by making resources go further.

In a foreword to the action plan, which is available to download online, temporary chief fire officer Jamie Courtney and Councillor Jim Andrews, chairman of South Yorkshire Fire Authority, say: “We are certain that the way we deliver your Fire and Rescue Service will need to change following the central government cuts which have been announced.”

The consultation document can be viewed online at www.syfire.gov.uk under the strategy and performance section and hard copies are available by emailing comments@syfire.gov.uk or calling 0114 2727202.