Royal Berkshire Fire Authority has decided to close Wargrave Fire Station.
The decision was taken following a risk-based review, which modeled how the Service could most effectively meet its response standard. This indicated that closing Wargrave Fire Station would have a minimal effect on Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue’s response standard – less than 0.1 per cent.
Performance against this response standard, which aims to attend all emergency incidents within 10 minutes on 75 per cent of occasions, is published monthly on the RBFRS website.
As part of a public consultation in 2017, the Fire Authority published a range of proposals on how they would provide future prevention, protection and response services to the communities of Royal Berkshire in line with a declining budget. We received 1,050 responses to the consultation and the public’s preferred option included the closure of Wargrave Fire Station.
Fire Authority Members at the April 2017 meeting unanimously agreed to adopt this option to save a total of £1.3M.
After listening to the concerns of the local residents of Wargrave, the Authority deferred closure to allow time for the following criteria to be achieved:
- The required savings be found elsewhere within the RBFRS budget.
- Wargrave Fire Station to demonstrate an increase in availability to 60 per cent within the 12-month period.
Unfortunately, despite the deferral and the best efforts of the community, the Authority and the Service, neither of the two criteria was achieved.
On 14 February 2020, the Fire Authority set their annual budget for 2020/21. The budget has a revenue shortfall of £284,000, which includes the costs of keeping Wargrave Fire Station open. This means that the necessary savings have not been identified and therefore the cost of keeping the fire station open would have to be met from the Authority’s reserves.
Wargrave Fire Station has also been unable to meet the required increase in availability to 60%.
Therefore, the process of closing Wargrave Fire Station will begin on 1 July 2020. The first step will be to consult with our staff. As part of this, they will all be offered a suitable alternative position within Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Fire Authority Chairman, Colin Dudley, said: “I want to reassure people living in Wargrave that they will continue to receive the high quality service they have become used to”.
“For many years now almost all incidents in Wargrave have been attended by crews from our whole-time stations at Wokingham Road and Maidenhead. Of the 42 incidents that have occurred in and around Wargrave, the Wargrave fire engine responded to one.
“Even when the Wargrave appliance was available, it was very likely that the whole-time appliances from the other fire stations could still be the first to arrive. This is due to the fact that whole time stations are crewed 24/7 and immediately available to go out on blue lights.
“The Wargrave appliance has to wait for our on-call firefighters to be notified at home or at work to make their way to the station and then respond to the incident in the fire appliance on-call firefighters in Wargrave need to be able to get to the station within 7 minutes and the appliance cannot leave without the minimum crewing of 4 firefighters to be in attendance”.
“Our commitment is to reach 75 per cent of the incidents we are called to across the county within 10 minutes of the initial phone call. We have seen a significant improvement in our performance against this standard across the whole county over the past 12 months.
“I want to thank the local community, local teams and everyone who has tried so hard to make Wargrave a viable response fire station. Unfortunately, it is no longer practical to use our limited public funds to try to keep such a limited response capability operating from there.”