Derby

Derbyshire fire strike cover plan faces shortfall

Derbyshire firefighters
Image caption Managers said the fire cover staff would have to come up to tough minimum standards

A move to recruit fire strike cover in Derbyshire has reached only just over half its original target.

Last month managers said they would give basic training to 65 people to help provide a legal minimum service.

The Fire Brigades' Union (FBU), which on Thursday backed strike action, said the first plan was "optimistic".

But a spokesman for the Derbyshire fire service said they were confident the 38 people who passed the application process would be sufficient.

The FBU and government are locked in a dispute about pensions reform.

All fire services have a legal obligation to provide cover in the event of a strike.

The military, used in past disputes, can no longer be deployed.

Bosses in Derbyshire are so far the only ones in the East Midlands to propose a way of dealing with the shortage.

'Exacting' process

A spokesman for the service said the target of training 65 people was a "best case scenario".

He added: "We are happy with the numbers and are confident it will be enough to provide a resilient service during any strike.

"All the successful candidates came through an exacting selection process and we are not prepared to sacrifice those levels of competency."

The FBU, which said it represents more than 90% of the 700 full time and retained firefighters in the county, said the plan could put public safety at risk.

Marc Redford, chair of the Derbyshire FBU, said: "Even 65 would be a very optimistic total to provide cover for fully trained and professional crews.

"It can't be a good way of doing the job to put forward people who have very limited experience and safety awareness and expecting them to cope."

However Mr Redford said their argument was not with the fire authority officers, who had been put in a difficult position by the stance of the government.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites