Unpopular shift changes could take 'a huge toll' on firefighters
AN UNPOPULAR system that changes the way fire stations operate could prove to be 'a huge toll' on firefighters if it is implemented.
An action plan released by Royal Berkshire Fire Authority - the body responsible for deciding how Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is run - has indicated a 'Day Crewing Plus' system is being considered for the region, which incorporates Slough, Langley, Windsor and Maidenhead stations.
Under the system, which could be introduced in 2013, separate rest areas are provided for crew so they can work four duty shift days and four nights on call at a time followed by four days off, instead of the current 42 hours a week.
The system halves the number of firefighters on a single fire-engine station, reducing the number of watches to two instead of four.
Michael Rowley, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union at Windsor fire station, said: "The system would be a huge toll on employees and their families if they have to be away from home four days at a time."
Switching to this system, which is already used in some places across the country including Lancashire and Merseyside, would allow savings of about £330,000 for each fire station where it is introduced. Crews would receive an enhanced salary for the additional hours on call but Mr Rowley said there was a distinct possibility redundancies would have to be made if stations opted for the new system.
Andy Mancey, RBFRS's area manager for response, said the proposals are for a selected number of fire stations only. He added: "A project team has recently been appointed to look at Day Crewing Plus in more detail and this work is still in its very early stages. The outcome of this work will be reported to the Fire Authority when it is completed."
Members of the public are invited to take part in the consultation programme, which runs until October 22, 2012.
The Action Plan can be downloaded from www.rbfrs.co.uk/irmp_options.asp. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0118 938 4331, fax 0118 959 0510 or write to IRMP Consultation, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, FREEPOST (RG2 669), 103 Dee Road, Tilehurst, Reading, RG30 1BR.
This article appeared in Royal Borough Observer 10 Aug 12