Friday 12 April 2013
Guernsey based Retained Section of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service to be disbanded
As a result of a yearlong fundamental review of the way in which the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service provides operational cover to the Islands of Guernsey and Herm, the management of the Fire & Rescue Service, in consultation with members of staff, have identified a number of changes that can be made to make the Service more effective and efficient, whilst maintaining the same level of safe operational response that the public of Guernsey have previously received.
There are various other projects underway but - as reported recently in the media - the Retained (part time) Section of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service (including Herm Island) was part of this review.
For clarification, the Retained Section members of staff have full time employment elsewhere and are released by their employers when called upon by the Fire Service to provide assistance at an emergency incident. Although helpful at times of high activity or a major incident, the staff have very rarely been utilised in recent years. The purpose of this specific element of the review was to identify if the section still provided value for money or if the cover could be provided in a more cost effective manner.
The Retained Section was established in Guernsey during 1975, to support the 36 whole-time operational members of staff that were available to fight fires on the Island. At that time they proved to be a vital source of operational assistance at large or protracted incidents. The Retained Section in Herm was put in place during 2001 (having previously been purely a voluntary Service) in order to provide an initial limited response pending the delayed arrival of responding crews from Guernsey.
In recent times, in order to ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff at operational incidents, there has been a requirement to employ greater numbers of whole-time operational staff in Guernsey. The result of these changes since the Retained Section was first put together in 1975 means that the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service now has 52 whole-time operational members of staff available to respond to incidents from the Town Arsenal Station and no longer rely on the part-time Retained Section to provide the vital assistance that was required thirty eight years ago.
Although the Guernsey based Retained Section continues to provide an option of very helpful assistance, the management of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service advised the Home Department Political Board that it was of the opinion that the support was no longer essential to the safe running of the Fire & Rescue Service, given the fact that whole-time operational numbers have increased and alternative assistance provisions exist within the Island from the Airport Fire & Rescue Service and the Civil Protection Volunteers. Off-Island support is also available from Jersey and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Services.
Given this information and advice, the Home Department Political Board made the decision to direct the Chief Fire Officer to disband the Guernsey based Retained Section of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service and maintain the Herm based Retained team.
The Home Department and management of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service will be using a 30-day consultation period to discuss the process of discontinuation with current Guernsey based Retained members of staff.
The Home Department Political Board and the management of the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service wish to endorse that this is a business decision based on efficiencies and not a reflection on the staff, so would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of staff concerned (as well as their primary employers) for their commitment and support during their time with the Service.
Chief Fire Officer Jon Le Page,
Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service, Town Arsenal, St Peter Port, GY1 1UW
Tel: 01481 724 491