The Hodnet Fire Crew are appealing to everyone in the community to help them put forward the case for keeping the station open in the future.
In recent weeks both the national and local media have reported on the increasing pressure being put on fire and rescue services across the country to make savings, due to the need for the Government to reduce its spending. As we all know these spending cuts are hitting services of all types. In May this year Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond warned that there were tough choices ahead for fire and rescue service in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. In an article posted here on the service’s website, he warned that a further £1.6m cut in its budget was called for by central Government as part of its austerity programme. The article stated that fire station closures, fire-fighter redundancies and a possible merger with a neighbouring brigade are being considered among a list of 50 options to be explored over the next 12 months. In an open letter to staff Paul Raymond said, “I still hope that the national economy will recover and the cuts to 2020 will be less than predicted. But we must still hope for the best and plan for the worst.”
Despite recent cuts of £3.2 million from its £20m annual budget resulting in a 10 per cent cut in fire-fighters and support staff, a 25 per cent reduction in senior officers along with streamlining all its services including cuts in successful community fire safety programmes, further savings are being called for. “None of these options are easy or desirable to deliver but they are the few remaining options we have left,” said Mr Raymond, who is asking staff for their “honest views” on the risk and impact of the latest proposed cuts.In his letter to staff he added, “Only when we have a full picture of the impact of each change will the Fire Authority be in a position to make the difficult decisions in the early part of 2014 about which options should be taken out to the public for their views.”
Hodnet’s Fire & Rescue Crew have been told that local stations have until the start of September to make the case for their services to be maintained and to show that they have support for this from the local community. This is why they are are appealing to local people to take action now and make their support for the station known. Following a recent house fire in Ollerton, a neighbouring resident has started a petition. It is hoped that copies will be placed in local shops, etc. but you can also download a PDF copy from here. Please encourage everyone you know to sign this petition. Please return all copies of signed petitions to the Fire Station (Station Road, Hodnet, TF9 3JD) by the end of July so the team can prepare their case for presentation to their management at the start of September.
You are also requested to send personal letters of support to the crew. You can do this either in writing to the above address or by emailing them. Below are some facts about our local station which may inspire you to write to them and perhaps as well to our local MP Owen Paterson (via this page on his website) and our local Councillor Karen Calder email.
So what is special about Hodnet’s Fire & Rescue Team? First and foremost, they are local. They are also unique in at least two ways. First, and very importantly the team provides 100% emergency cover for fires, road accidents, etc. entirely from local recruits. That means 24 hour, 7 day a week, year round cover by local people who have committed themselves to being at the station within five minutes of being summoned in response to an emergency call. No other retained station county-wide has received this level of practical support from its community. Secondly, amongst its crew of 14 there are 3 female members. Shropshire’s Fire & Rescue Service currently has a total of 8 female fire-fighters and no other station has so many amongst its team. Despite its high level of support from the community there are still two places unfilled in their quota and we are sure they would love to hear from anyone else (male or female) who would like to join them.
Retained fire crews also offer a massive saving for the service. The estimated cost of keeping a fire appliance ready-to-go with a full time crew is just below £1.3 million per year (including station costs, etc.) In 2012 Hodnet’s appliance cost just £115,000 to keep operational. However, rural stations are much more likely to be axed than those in towns with larger populations. Hodnet is relatively close to the stations in Market Drayton, Wem and Whitchurch so this makes it more vulnerable than stations in rural locations like Clun in the south of the county. (See here for a map of all Shropshire’s 23 Fire Stations.) Should Hodnet be closed, as Watch Manager Steve Palin states in the above video, this will mean increased response times to incidents in this area. An extra fifteen minutes could prove fatal in some cases. It may well be a case of support our local crew or lose them!
Please do all you can to support Hodnet’s Fire Station.
- Download and print off a copy of the petition, encourage others to sign it, then return it by the end of July;
- Write to the crew, Owen Paterson and Karen Calder informing them of the need to keep the station open.
- Download, print off and display a copy of the poster prepared by the crew asking for support from the community.
- The crew have also set up their own Facebook page which you can “like” them on.
Remember – whilst we all hope you never will, one day you may need them yourself!
Meet the crew