Fire service hit by shortage of part-time staff
FIRE officers have claimed a shortage of part time firefighters has meant that up to 21 fire appliances have not been fully manned this week — and may not be for the foreseeable future.
Several officers serving with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who do not want to be named, say that a problem with staffing has meant that, for periods this week the appliances — which were largely in the Swansea Bay area, are unavailable.
They also claim the shortage of part-time firefighters has meant that community and business fire safety officers, whose job it is to advise and educate about fire prevention, have had to be drafted into some stations to cover shortfalls — but that many have not been on active duty for years and would need refresher training courses to ensure their safety.
The Fire Brigades Union has declined to comment on the claims, because it is currently in negotiations with MWWFRS management over a review into cuts that management want to make to full-time frontline firefighters.
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Deputy chief fire officer Paul Bates said: "We recognise that we currently have some crewing challenges at certain times of the day, particularly in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.
"For that reason, we are utilising some of our business fire safety and community safety staff more flexibly. These colleagues, who are all highly trained and skilled fire officers, are performing their normal roles, but instead of operating out of their normal place of work at Morriston and Neath, they are working at stations where we have short term crewing difficulties. This enables us to keep appliances available whilst not interfering with community or business fire safety work.
"This flexible deployment of staff across the service area is an everyday occurrence.
"The availability of appliances changes many times per hour based upon many factors."