SOMERSET fire stations will remain OPEN after the public had their say over proposals which could have seen at least one shut.

Porlock Fire Station was threatened with closure in cost-cutting plans revealed by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in June last year.

However, after a public consultation which saw nearly 2,000 people attend drop-in sessions, more than 3,800 individual responses submitted and petitions handed in containing more than 43,500 signatures, the service has announced what it wants to do.

And the proposed closure of the Porlock station is NOT among proposals set to go before the Fire Authority next week (January 10).

The suggestion of closing the Porlock station was met with anger from residents, with hundreds joining a protest against the move in July last year.

One station in the service area - at Budleigh Salterton - would close under the plans, with Bridgwater Taunton, Yeovil and Torquay to lose a third fire engine, reducing the equipment available at each site.

Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer, said: “Last summer we consulted on a number of options for change. We have also recently received Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) report which highlighted areas where we need to improve.

"After reflecting on staff suggestions, public feedback and considering how we need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Service, we have recommended a balanced set of proposals for consideration by the Fire Authority.

“We are presenting a significant investment in our ‘on call’ staff which will directly improve the availability of our fire engines.

"At the same time, we are suggesting closure of one fire station (Budleigh Salterton), relocation of another (Topsham) as well as removal of a number of low activity fire engines.

"Importantly, we are confident that we can secure alternative ways of working with our whole time staff which will allow us to undertake significantly more prevention and protection activity which will also make communities safer.”

The changes that the Service is recommending for approval by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority are to:

  • Defer the decision to implement day crewing at Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton subject to a revised 24/7 crewing model being agreed with the Fire Brigades Union, including roving appliances, before the end of the 19/20 financial year.
  • Close Budleigh Salterton fire station and allow affected firefighters to respond from Exmouth fire station.
  • Relocate Topsham fire station to Service Headquarters (Clyst St George) and relocate one of the fire engines to Middlemoor fire station (both fire engines to be relocated to Service Headquarters until an on-call crew can be established at Middlemoor).
  • Remove the third fire engines from Bridgwater, Taunton, Torquay and Yeovil.
  • Remove the second fire engines from Crediton, Lynton, Martock and Totnes.
  • Introduce variable fire engine availability dependent on risk.

The proposals come less than a month after the findings of a fire services watchdog inspection were published, which said the Devon and Somerset service was 'failing to meet response standards'.

Yeovil Express:

STAYING OPEN: Porlock Fire Station