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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 December, 2002, 18:30 GMT
Firefighter responds to Bain
Sir George Bain says the fire service needs transformation
Hereford firefighter Nigel Stroud shares his thoughts on the Bain report with News Online.

The one thing that I feel concerned about is the charging for emergency special services - which covers road traffic accidents and call outs that may not necessarily involve a fire.

This is a bad route to go down because not only would insurance claims go through the roof but the fire service has put in a lot of time and money into safety campaigns whereby the public are encouraged to vacate an area of danger and call us.

I think it would inhibit the public from calling 999 when they are not sure if they have a fire - it could be potentially very dangerous if they wait - in many emergencies minutes do really count.

If businesses think they are going to get charged when their fire alarms go off - which later prove to be false - then they may start to cut corners and only call once they've made investigations themselves. That would be very ill advised.

Local knowledge

Our campaign has been "get out, stay out and call us out!"

Another point of concern is the notion of centralisation.

One thing we really do value is the local knowledge of our control room operators - they know exactly where to send us and what we may need .

I am aware of mix-ups already occurring from the centralised control room of the police force in our area whereby they have sent out police to the wrong address in a completely different area.

It's a simple mistake but it would not happen on a local basis.

Potential disasters

This so-called modernisation is quite a worry - the police service has been modernised as has the ambulance and quite frankly if you call 999 you will have some time to wait before they turn up, whereas with the fire brigade we are talking minutes as opposed to tens of minutes.

I appreciate that does vary from region to region but I know in the Hereford region that is the case.

Again - cutting back on the numbers of firefighters on the night shift is going to cause problems.

The most important part of dealing with a fire is the number of firefighters in attendance and, as three quarters of deaths from fire occur at night, cutting back on these shifts you are going to have potential disasters all over the place.

See also:

16 Dec 02 | Scotland
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