Shropshire

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service firefighters' hours could double

Fourteen firefighters could see their weekly hours double, exceeding European time directives, under plans dubbed "Victorian" by the Fire Brigades Union.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is trying to find £1.1m savings from its £20m budget before April 2015.

One part of the plans is to change shift patterns to save £400,000.

The change would affect 14 firefighters at one station only, who would work up to an average 84 hours per week - half of those on call.

'Extreme change'

Matt Lamb, secretary of the Shropshire branch of the Fire Brigades Union, called it a "Victorian idea".

He said: "Those are ridiculously long hours to work."

Andy Johnson, the brigade's assistant chief fire officer admitted it would be "an extreme change" and "not that family friendly".

He said: "My perception would be, if we did not do this we would require all staff to convert across to some new shift pattern to make the savings we need."

At present, one pump is staffed by 28 firefighters on an eight-week rotation, each one averaging 42 hours at work per week.

The proposal, called Day Crew Plus, could mean half as many volunteers work over a longer rotation of around 12 weeks at one station of the 23 across the county.

Fewer salaries

Those involved would be paid around a third more than their colleagues, once pensions contributions and National Insurance were taken into account.

The savings would come from paying fewer salaries and the brigade would not need to replace retiring officers.

Emergency services workers can exempt themselves from European time directives, which regulate work shifts and gaps between them, which is why this idea could be implemented.

A similar proposal was adopted at Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service from April, for a crew based at Bromsgrove.

A public consultation ends 31 July.

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