Fire service plans to meet an annual £4 million cash shortfall have been debated by its governing Fire Authority.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s final proposals were presented to members on Monday (16 September), having considered responses to a consultation exercise which were broadly supportive of the main cost saving option put forward- to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine from five to four.
Voting on the proposals, members decided that if no viable alternative to achieve the level of savings predicted is identified, then the adoption of four firefighters on all frontline fire engines would be implemented in 2020/21. But they also called upon the service to spend the rest of this financial year exploring alternative methods of achieving the required savings and to recruit firefighters to reduce the amount of money it is currently having to spend on overtime.
Fire officers had already made a series of commitments in response to the consultation. Those commitments included investing in technology to help firefighters on the incident ground, regularly monitoring the service’s performance in relation to sickness and safety and only implementing the change at as many stations as it needs to in order to meet the financial shortfall.
Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “In responding to the consultation feedback, we’ve already described the savings we’ve made to protect our frontline service and we will continue to explore further options, as directed by members. However, whilst we would rather not make any changes to our frontline service at all, we’re pleased that the Fire Authority has acknowledged that riding with four firefighters on a fire engine remains a viable solution should we be required to implement it.”