Additionally, this will involve attendance by just two to three firefighters and in a pickup truck rather than a fire engine.
The Fire Brigades Union has issued a “Safety Critical Notice” to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service concerning the policy.
It believes there is a severe breach of health and safety guidelines.
Ordinarily, control room staff would send a minimum of four firefighters in a fire engine to incidents.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service issued a “go-live” for the vehicles to take effect today, 1st June 2022.
Andrew Fox-Hewitt, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Cheshire brigade secretary, said:
“We’ve seen cuts before, but this is beyond farcical.
“It is a disastrous plan that will end in damage to the health and safety of firefighters and the public alike – how can firefighters be expected to tackle house fires or a car fire with a single fire extinguisher or without any respiratory protection.
“This is a ridiculous plan with little proper assessment or planning and we are appalled that this is even being considered. The union will use all tools at its disposal to protect the health and safety of its members.”
The policy is being implemented with 13 units, present at all on-call only stations (or where there is no whole time pump attached to the station) in Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Many fire stations have already said that they will not be crewing these vehicles due to safety concerns.
The pickup trucks will not have breathing apparatus on board nor any firefighting capability save for one fire extinguisher.
The FBU believes that they will not be carrying sufficient equipment to ensure the firefighters’ safety.
Additionally, they have no hazard or risk data available as the pickups will not carry data terminals either.
Additional concerns include that incident commanders of the vehicles will not be trained or assessed in responding with a crew of two or three firefighters.
There has been no analysis to detail the risk or operational tasks.
The crews will be undertaking some activities outside current guidance and policy relating to health and safety and risk assessments.
The FBU had requested to convene an urgent Health and Safety Committee with the fire and rescue service, but this was refused.
They also said they had requested the Cheshire Combined Fire Authority pause the implementation and meet with the Union to discuss the concerns.
Still, the FBU said that the chair of the local fire authority had refused this request.
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