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Ray of hope for fire service campaigners

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Campaigners fighting against changes to Frome fire service have been given a boost after  the controversial plans were put on hold by fire chiefs.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service launched a consultation in July with plans to ‘modernise’ the service. But their plans were criticised by local people and firefighters who said it would mean cuts to the local fire service, putting lives at risk.

Following the 12-week consultation, a decision was due to be made early next month.

But now the decision has been delayed until December 18th because of the high number of responses the fire service has had to the consultation. The plans include Frome’s current service of two fire engines, crewed by all on-call fire fighters 24 hours a day, being reduced to one engine crewed 24 hours a day with the second engine crewed only at night.

Firefighters from Frome – which was the second busiest retained station in the region out of 85 station from 2015 to 2019 – say the proposals would make it difficult for the Frome service to meet minimum standard response times.

Under the plans only one fire engine would be available in Frome between 8am and 6pm. Local firefighters warned that if a second engine was needed during the day it would have to come from another service such as Warminster, who would be unable to reach Frome within the minimum standard response time.

In response to the consultation, the fire service received 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions. And due to the large number of submissions, the fire authority has postponed its decision from early November to Wednesday 18th December so it can  “thoroughly review the responses”.

Chief fire officer, Lee Howell said, “I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have taken the time to share their views through the consultation. It has been a great opportunity to openly discuss our challenges and proposed solutions with people across our two counties.

“I appreciate that moving the decision extends the uncertainty for our staff and communities who are affected by the proposals.

“We don’t take any proposals to close stations or remove fire engines lightly, which is why it is vital that we take time to thoroughly analyse and carefully consider the responses.”

The proposed cuts to Frome’s fire station is one of many changes put forward by DSFRS in the public consultation. Other changes proposed, which have been divided into six options, include the closure of several ‘low risk/low activity’ stations, the removal of all third engines, and removal of some second engines. 

Pictured: Frome firefighters in action at a public demonstration.

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