SOUTH Somerset is set to lose two fire engines as part of cost cutting plans to be voted on this week.

The second fire engine at Martock and the third fire engine in Yeovil are due to be removed under proposals going before the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority on Friday (January 10).

Some Somerset fire stations were put at risk of closure by the plans, and more fire engines - including one at Chard - were at risk of removal or reduced service.

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.

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 fire authority is also expected 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.

This will include roving appliances, and is set to be decided before the end of the 19/20 financial year.

The proposals come less than a month after the findings of a fire services watchdog inspection were published.

It it, inspectors said that the Devon and Somerset service was ‘failing to meet response standards’.