Devon fire chiefs outline plans to cut budget by £5.5m
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has outlined a series of cost-cutting proposals as it seeks to slash its budget by £5.5m.
The service's Government grant has been reduced by 10.3 per cent in 2013 and a further 7.3 per cent in 2014, meaning it will lose £3.4m in the next financial year and a further £2.1m the following year.
Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: "The grant reductions for our service were harsher than we would have liked. This means that we will need to manage our service with approximately £5.5m less each year and won't be able to operate in the way in which we currently do.
"However, at this stage, we do not plan on closing fire stations, removing fire engines or making staff compulsorily redundant."
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Proposals include extending the roll-out of light rescue pumps; reducing staff numbers through natural turnover; and changing the status of some fire engines in Plymouth, Torquay, Taunton and Ilfracombe from full-time to retained crewing.
Mr Howell added: "The changes we propose aim to strike the balance between making savings and maintaining public safety.
"These are difficult times and difficult choices are needed. The status quo is simply not an option given the need to significantly reduce the budget."
Further government grant reductions are expected for 2015-2018.
The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority will discuss the proposals at a meeting on Friday, January 18, ahead of a 12-week public consultation process.