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Firefighter numbers in Potters Bar halved under cost-cutting plans
Firefighter numbers in Potters Bar have been halved under cost-cutting plans expected to save the service £300,000 a year.
Crew members at the Mutton Lane station were reduced from 28 to 14 this week, with new shift patterns meaning firefighters could be on call for up to 120 hours per week.
Under the changes, at least five firefighters will be based on active duty at the station or on call in new on-site staff accommodation at all times.
Of the 28 firefighters at the Potters Bar station, some of whom had been based there for more than 15 years, just two put themselves forward to work under the new scheme. The rest have been moved to other stations across Hertfordshire.
The move has been in the pipeline for almost a year, but this week new crew members moved in for the first time.
Under the new system, used in Lancashire, crews will work in shifts of 24 hours, with 12 hours active duty and 12 hours on call in the staff accommodation.
New watch commander Matt Merrison, who has been based at a firefighter training centre for the past eight years, believes the changes will bring greater flexibility to the service.
He said: “I really believe this station will be able to do more. We have all volunteered for this – we all know what we’re doing. The community is still getting its fire cover and we’re happy and planning ahead.”
Staff, most of whom live out of the area and will stay in the on-site accommodation between active shifts, have been handed a 24 per cent pay increase.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue estimates the Potters Bar crews spend less than three per cent of their time fighting fires and plans to introduce the same system to Rickmansworth later this year.
Andy Nunn has been the station commander at Potters Bar for one year.
He said: “Everyone here wants to make this work. We will have a few problems to overcome but we will do what we can to overcome any glitches.
“There is an incentive with the pay increase but you’ve got to remember these guys will be here 24 hours a day so it is there to recognise the additional cover they’re giving.”