Leicester

Oakham fire station set to halve full-time officers

The number of full-time firefighters at a Rutland fire station are set to be halved by the end of 2012.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service said the remaining staff at Oakham fire station would work or be on call 84-hours a week to maintain a 24-hour, seven days a week, service.

The Fire Brigades Union, in the East Midlands, said the planned change for its members was "drastic".

The fire authority hoped the move would save the station £400,000 each year.

'No change to service'

The new "duty system" would see 28 full-time firefighters in Oakham cut to 14 because it was classed as a "low activity" station.

The Leicestershire Fire Authority said officers receive less than 700 calls a year, equivalent to about two a day.

Steve Lunn, assistant chief fire and rescue officer for Leicestershire and Rutland, said: "Communities in and around Oakham will not see any difference to our emergency response because we'll still be maintaining full-time crew at the fire station on a 24/7 basis.

"The firefighters instead of working a 12-hour shift will work a 24-hour shift that's split in half - 12 working hours and 12 standby hours."

The authority said it hoped to move the other officers to fire stations who were in need of more staff.

'Drastic change'

"It isn't just about saving money... it's about improving and increasing the number of full-time crewed fire appliances that we have available 24/7 in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland," Mr Lunn said.

He added that the authority would not make "compulsory transfers" to the new system.

Pete Wilkins, from the Fire Brigades Union in the East Midlands, said: "This is a drastic change, to go from a 42-hour average week to 84-hours per week.

"For people to be remaining at work for this time is too much of a great increase.

"This new duty system is actually outside our national conditions of service and if it is to be introduced, it ought to be negotiated nationally."

The fire authority has plans to implement the new working shifts at other Leicestershire fire stations.

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