Matlock firefighters to stage protest against station staffing changes

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced plans for a public demonstration to voice its opposition to proposed staffing changes in Matlock.

Union members will be at Park Head in Crown Square on Saturday, February 10, starting at 10.30am to call attention to a public consultation by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue.

It asks residents to consider three options, which would all reduce the number of full-time firefighters at Matlock as part of changes to what are called duty systems.

FBU Derbyshire secretary Chris Tapp said: “We know all three proposals increase risks to the public, and to firefighters attending incidents.

“Response times will increase and members of the public will have to wait longer.

“The union can’t let that happen without stating our opposition. Hopefully people will complete the consultation and oppose the plans with us, standing up for public safety.”

According to the consultation documents, service managers predict no change in response times.

Mr Tapp added: “We feel the current system is the most effective, and have raised our objections, but they have put three options forward which would all mean cuts.”

Fire bosses say the consultation has been prompted by a need to achieve a further £1.6million in savings by 2019-20, but the FBU dispute both that argument and the means to achieve it.

Mr Tapp said: “We’ve had reviews of operational cover across the county, and Matlock and Glossop are the two most efficient and effective stations in terms of cost to the authority and the taxpayer. They provide cost effective 24-7 cover, 365 days a year.”

He added: “The authority say they need to save £600,000 from frontline response, but we don’t think that’s accurate or fair. The financial forecast is changing and these cuts are unnecessary.

“We are looking at an increasing budget coming into Derbyshire, and are already making huge savings with the number of vacancies being left unfilled. We’re chronically undercrewed.”

The union has also suggested that the changes are motivated by plans to sell crew housing on the station site.

Chris said: “It’s short term thinking which will lead to the sale of long term assets. It doesn’t make good business sense and would have hit firefighters who have families and are part of the community.”

He added: “We would encourage the public to ignore all three options and use the free text boxes in the consultation to say what is right for a service which they are paying for.”

For details of the consultation, visit www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/have-your-say.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue did not respond to requests for comment.

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