FIRE FIGHTER STRENGTH HAS FALLEN BY A THIRD

Bucks fire ser­vice says it has had to ‘find ways of mak­ing do with less’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by JOSHUA SMITH joshua.smith@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Joshua_Smith1

BUCK­ING­HAMSHIRE Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice has moved to re­as­sure mem­bers of the public af­ter gov­ern­ment fig­ures re­vealed a fall in fire­fighter num­bers in the last five years.

Work­force num­bers, re­leased by the Home Of­fice, re­veal that in Buck­ing­hamshire fire­fighter strength fell by a third from 2011 – the sec­ond big­gest de­crease in Eng­land.

Ac­cord­ing to the fig­ures, in 2011 Buck­ing­hamshire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice had 555 full-time (FTE) fire­fight­ers while in 2016 there were 381 – a 31.3% drop.

It is pro­por­tion­ally the sec­ond big­gest drop across the coun­try af­ter Cam­bridgeshire that has a 31.5% fewer fire­fight­ers.

To get the FTE num­bers, full-time of­fi­cers and staff are counted as one, and part-time are counted ac­cord­ing to the pro­por­tion of full-time worked. For ex­am­ple, a fire­fighter work­ing 60% of full-time hours is counted as 0.6.

So over­all head count is likely to be higher than the FTE num­ber.

In 2016 Buck­ing­hamshire had 259 full-time fire­fight­ers and the equiv­a­lent of 122 on-call fire­fight­ers.

These on-call or ‘re­tained’ fire­fight­ers have the same train­ing as full­time work­ers but are not em­ployed full-time by the de­part­ment.

A Buck­ing­hamshire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice spokesman said the ser­vice has had no fire sta­tion clo­sures and has the same num­ber of fire ap­pli­ances

The spokesman said the lat­est fig­ure does not re­flect the fact there are cur­rently 20 fire­fighter ap­pren­tices who have al­most com­pleted their first year and there have been no fire­fighter re­dun­dan­cies.

They added: “In the face of sev­eral years of cuts to our bud­get, we have had to find ways of mak­ing do with less, rather than do­ing less.”

In Eng­land the FTE num­ber of fire­fight­ers has de­creased by 16% since 2011 from 41,171 to 34,395.

The to­tal FTE num­ber of sup­port and fire con­trol staff was 7,952, 18% lower than five years be­fore­hand.

Al­most ev­ery fire de­part­ment around the coun­try apart from Suf­folk and Corn­wall has seen a drop in fire­fighter strength dur­ing this time.

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