Derbyshire Fire Authority votes to cut firefighters at Matlock station

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Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Authority (FRA) has voted to approve controversial changes to the duty system operated at Matlock fire station.

The decision, taken on Thursday, March 22, followed a ten week public consultation which sparked protests from the Fire Brigades Union and supporters in the community.

After reviewing the consultation feedback, authority members voted for the option to cut the number of full-time firefighters based at the station from 14 to nine, with the service to be crewed by on-call firefighters outside of peak hours, Monday to Friday.

Authority chairman Councillor Kevin Buttery said: “Members were presented with the comprehensive findings of the consultation and given the opportunity to fully explore and discuss these before voting at today’s meeting.”

Derbyshire’s Chief Fire Officer Terry McDermott said: “The decision to review the duty systems at Matlock and Glossop fire stations based on extensive and thorough data and performance analysis.

“This identified the need to review the overall cost effectiveness of these stations, based on the limited number of incidents attended, the reducing risks in the communities and total running costs.”

He added: “This option will require nine wholetime firefighters on a day shift pattern, Monday to Friday, and outside of these times on-call firefighters will provide cover.

“This option provides the greatest flexibility and resilience in delivering an efficient and effective emergency response to the communities of Matlock and Glossop.”

Town and district councillor Sue Burfoot, a member of the fire authority who had criticised the consultation and backed the FBU, described the decision as “extremely disappointing but not surprising.”

She said: “I believe the fire authority will do everything it can to maintain the best possible service. But to have 32 per cent of people responding to a consultation decide not to support any of the given options is significant. People saw how it seemed designed to produce a certain result.

“At the authority meeting we heard all the facts and figures, but the Conservative majority group said nothing and then just waved it through.”

She added: “Our focus now must be on ensuring a proper resolution which mitigates any effects. I shall keep making the case for those firefighters who have their homes at the station.”

Service bosses say the changes will not result in any redundancies, but the FBU have argued that is beside the point. Derbyshire branch chairman Tony Dempsey said: “We are disappointed. All of the options in the consultation meant a reduction in night-time cover and an increase in turnout times.

“Although our on-call firefighters do a fantastic job, we believe this will increase the level risk to the public. The full details of what is being proposed haven’t been released to us yet. We need to see more before deciding whether we work with the service to manage the change.

“This will affect our members, especially those who live in station housing, but our primary concern is community safety. We’ll keep fighting to ensure the best possible service.”