On-call firefighters to work in Sheffield city centre at night
Plans for some firefighters to work on an on-call basis in Sheffield city centre at night have been given the go-ahead.
Fire chiefs only want one of two fire engines in the city centre to be staffed around the clock.
The want the second engine, based at central fire station on Eyre Street, to be manned on an 'on-call' basis to cut costs.
Unions fear on-call staffing could cost lives because of delays in responding to emergencies, but bosses want more firefighters available to work during the day when they are traditionally busier.
South Yorkshire Fire Authority approved the move when it rubber stamped a new fire service Integrated Risk Management Plan for the next three years, which sets out the steps to be taken and resources needed to improve public safety, reduce fires and save lives.
Fire chiefs have lost £14 million in funding since 2010 and their annual budget is set to shrink further.
They said that following concerns raised about on-call city centre firefighters they would man the second appliance full time 'if funding allows'.
Their new plan will see two new fire engines introduced to South Yorkshire stations, which will be manned full time during the day but on an on-call basis at night.
They also aim to find ways of working more closely with the police and ambulance services, in line with a new law now making it a requirement for all emergency services.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “Our vision for the lifetime of this plan is to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources which are available to us.
"For us, that means making more of our firefighters available in the day when crews are busiest, changing our prevention work to focus on those most at risk and proactively exploring collaboration opportunities with other emergency services.
"We were pleased that lots of local people came forward to share their views on our proposals and, now they have been approved, we will be working hard to put those plans into action.”
Fire Authority Vice Chairman, Councillor Alan Atkin, said: “It is expected that the Fire and Rescue Authority will face a further £2 million in cuts up to 2020 on top of the £14 million it has already saved in the past seven years. These proposals represent the best options available to the service so as to maintain the level of fire cover in South Yorkshire that the public expect.”