Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) has made decisions which will impact upon the future of the Service as part of the IRMP Service Redesign project.
The decisions were made on Tuesday 18 April after members conscientiously considered the views of staff and communities as part of the consultation process.
The consultation achieved record responses (for an RBFRS consultation) and focused on proposed changes to the Prevention, Protection and Response work of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), in an effort to make savings of about £1.4m by April 2020.
Members chose to approve all eight Prevention proposals and both Protection proposals available to them and they approved an amended version of option one for Response.
As one of seven Response options presented, option one included the closure of Pangbourne (subject to the opening of a new community fire station in Theale), the disestablishment of the Retained Support Unit and changing the management of three fire stations to become remotely managed stations.
The amendment means that the decision on the closure of Wargrave Fire Station is deferred for one-year with two conditions – the availability of the crew increasing to 60 per cent and the savings being found elsewhere.
Officers will now work with staff to begin the process of developing plans which will be implemented in a phased approach over the next three years, embedding the new ways of working and ensuring the savings are made by April 2020.
Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of RBFA, said: “Making changes to something as important as the way in which the fire and rescue service works is never easy but we are not in a position where we can stand still. Savings totalling £2.4m need to be found by April 2020.
“£1m of those savings will be found from a restructures of all departments, with an additional £1.4million to come from service redesign. We received 1,050 responses from residents, community groups, councils, staff and representative bodies – plus a petition from the people of Wargrave – and conscientiously considered all of that before voting.”
Councillor Emma Webster, Lead Member for IRMP said: “Crews and community of Wargrave, we listened to the comments you and petitioners raised – like all respondents you have been passionate in the defence of your fire station.
“We promise we will try to find the savings to keep the fire station open. However, we need something in return to enable this to be a possibility.
“The crewing availability for fire and rescue incidents needs to increase and, in the next 12 months, we need this to reach 60 per cent.”
The agenda for the Fire Authority meeting and the papers and reports associated with each of the items can be found here https://decisionmaking.rbfrs.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=131&MId=452
Watch the Fire Authority video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQcEd_Oh1bw&t=10747s