Despite local opposition to the proposed plans in Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), Hertfordshire County Council will aim to press ahead on Friday at a Community Safety Panel meeting .
The plans – that form part of the 4-year IRMP document – include a reduction in crewing levels, changes to fire-fighting safety equipment and a further push towards casualised contracts, which have been found elsewhere to breach safety legislation.
The IRMP was originally put out to public consultation in November 2018, which over the space of 12 weeks, gathered significant negative responses, some of these forming a majority, and many of these demonstrating a considerable difference in opinion between the Council and local residents. Despite this, no substantial changes have been recommended in the final draft of the document, due to be voted on this week on Friday.
Labour County Councillor Joshua Bennett Lovell said: “Labour opposed these plans both in the November Cabinet and – alongside members of the Fire Brigades Union and the public – in the countywide consultation. I made clear at that time on the three points related to crewing levels, contracts and safety assets, we would not provide our support to this plan.”
“The Conservative County Council’s response belittles local democracy and accountability. Ignoring their own consultation sets a dangerous precedent, and given this is such a significant safety issue, this is extremely alarming. I am calling on the County Council to update their plans based on the concerns raised by the public even at this late stage.”
Hertfordshire FBU Secretary Daren Scotchford said: “The FBU have significant concerns with a number of proposals contained within the draft plan. We are particularly concerned that, despite widespread public opposition to reducing crew sizes from 5 Firefighters to 4 on frontline appliances, the IRMP still proposes this reduction.”
“We would urge the County Council to think again on this and, other proposed cuts as we believe they will be to the detriment of both Firefighters and the public’s safety and welfare. Our members are prepared to defend their Service and all options to achieve this remain on the table.”