The Cabinet member responsible for the Isle of Wight’s Fire & Rescue Service (IWFRS), Cllr Tig Outlaw, is reported to have met with firefighters at Ryde station last night (Wednesday) ahead of tonight’s decision-making meeting in Ventnor at 5pm.
Ryde: One fire appliance at night
An inside source at the IWFRS has told OnTheWight that if the new shift patterns are agreed as part of the Fire Service Review,
“Ryde would be left with only one fire appliance at night crewed by retained staff, where now it has at least one guaranteed pump at night with up to a possible three and an aerial appliance.”
OnTheWight asked the Isle of Wight council whether this was correct, in their reply, they did not deny it.
Recruitment drive could take years
The IWFRS insider went on to say that,
“The current under-staffing of the retained in Ryde could leave the town without a fire engine available at night if the plans proceed before the RDS recruitment drive which could take years to train and bolster its stations.
“There are currently already up to three immediately available crews of five available most days across the Island and the ability to crew other special and aerial appliances. Wholetime crews regularly crew retained fire appliances to keep them available
“The new system will see that reduced, but will give three appliances of four riders instead during the day.”
Left in “risky situation”
The inside source goes on to say that the changes could leave the residents of Ryde, the Island’s largest town, and heavily populated in a “very risky situation at night”.
The only immediate back up would be the appliance from Newport and then from other retained stations, but they are not guaranteed. They explain there are less fires at night, but they are the cause of most fire deaths, as everyone is in bed.
Islands are different
The IWFRS insider also reported that,
“Questions were raised as to why other Islands, Guernsey and Isle of Man have a crew of 5 and so do Cornwall. All have none or very little immediate support just like the Island.
“Councillor Outlaw had no answer other than the Island had to realign its wholetime staff and would be using crews of four to operate within the budget.”
OnTheWight asked the council whether this was an accurate reflection of what Cllr Outlaw had said. They did not deny it.
Post cuts already decided on?
The IWFRS insider finished by claiming that in the budget set in February this year, already accounted for cutting the number of posts from 58 to 50 wholetime crew.
OnTheWight asked whether this was correct and the council did not deny it.
It was notable that in response to OnTheWight’s specific numbered questions, the council failed to directly answer them, instead sending this statement,
“Councillor Tig Outlaw has spent the last six months thoroughly researching the impact of these changes.
“This has included meeting with staff from all the teams across the Island.
“These meetings are ongoing and will continue as we work together to make improvements to the fire service.
“Councillor Outlaw has listened to ideas and suggestions from staff and heard concerns. All of this is taken into consideration when making changes.
“Councillor Outlaw will continue to engage with staff and ensure that the service works together to improve the safety of the Isle of Wight.”
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