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Plans to axe Lichfield fire engine slammed as ‘reckless’ by MP Michael Fabricant

Lichfield’s MP has branded plans to cut one of Lichfield’s fire engines as “irresponsible and reckless”.

The proposals come as Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service looks to make savings.

But Michael Fabricant says he has written to Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford to call for a rethink on how best to balance the books.

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

“Proposals for Lichfield are irresponsible and reckless,” he said.

“Their stubborn refusal to work with the police and combine back office functions, such as HR and accounts, could save as much as £10 million each year, possibly more. But instead they have chosen to cut back on equipment and personnel endangering lives and property.

“I am disappointed they are not in serious discussions with Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner, who has proposed this plan.”

A new fire station is currently being constructed in Lichfield, with the plans looking to remove one of the two engines based there and replacement it with a targeted response vehicle (TRV).

But Mr Fabricant believes the plan could put residents at risk.

“This will seriously reduce operational cover within Lichfield,” he said. “The TRV is a small, specialised vehicle which will only able to respond to small fires, such as grass fires.

“The TRV will not respond to high risk calls such as house fires and road traffic accidents. If the main fire engine is attending incidents in other areas, then there will be no high risk cover in Lichfield at all.

“This is unacceptable and could be life threatening. Lichfield is the only whole-time fire station to have an operational large Scania fire engine removed. It is as if Lichfield is being singled out.”

Mr Fabricant says figures show that staffing at Lichfield is half that of Tamworth, despite answering more incidents in May than the neighbouring crews.

He added: “I applaud the fire fighters in Lichfield. They are trying hard to maximise their output.

“They are currently trialling running two large fire engines at night by riding just four firefighters on each appliance. The standard number is normally five. This is no more personnel than Stafford’s proposal for only one fire engine and an inadequate Targeted Response Vehicle.

“With so many historic and vulnerable buildings within Lichfield, the fire service should be filling the expensive new station with more equipment and fire fighters – not fewer.

“If Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service worked with Staffordshire Police on back office functions instead of adhering to an old fashioned approach to management, they could be doing just that.” Michael adds.

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  1. Darryl

    29th June, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Whatever happened to the plans to merge the police, fire & ambulance building on Eastern Avenue?

  2. Steven Norman

    29th June, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    But Fabulosa has refused to meet with Fire Chiefs on a number of occasions – unlike Staffordshire’s other MP’s. When will he do his job as a representative of Lichfield Constituency (not City) instead of just getting cheap headlines?

  3. Steven Norman

    30th June, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Conservative Chairman of Fire Authority now that both Ellis and Fabricant have refused to meet face to face.
    Can Lichfield Live get a response from the pair to this?

  4. stymaster

    30th June, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    “Their stubborn refusal to work with the police and combine back office functions, such as HR and accounts, could save as much as £10 million each year, possibly more.”

    Having worked within both fire and police services (though not in Staffs) I can be fairly confident in saying their backroom functions are structured differently, and systems that support them are probably both bespoke and complicated, and an attempt to combine them would be both costly and very difficult, but then I hardly expect practicality given the source of the quote.

    Also, the attempt to simplify costs at Lichfield down to a number of firefighters, ignoring the operating cost of an expensive, complex vehicle and all of its equipment is somewhat missing the point, or at least is a diversionary tactic.

    Furthermore, response times to incidents are governed by goverment rules: the fire service will simply not be allowed to reduce cover below the levels stipulated by those. I’d also guess that the CFO probably knows a little more about running a fire service.

  5. John

    2nd July, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Mr Fabricant’s Tory Party cuts are putting huge pressure on public services which are now stretched to breaking point. To hear Fabricant reacting with outrage at the effect of these cuts makes me sick!