[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
No snooker rule angers fire crews
The FBU said firefighters paid for their own snooker tables
Snooker tables, dart boards and sofas are to be removed from south Wales fire stations as part of a drive to make the brigade look more "professional".

Bosses at South Wales Fire Service say the items "dissuade people from viewing firefighters as professional people delivering a professional service".

Many staff are "upset" at the move, which was announced in a newsletter.

The brigade admits the decision is likely to be "emotive" but wants its stations to be more visitor friendly.

John Jenkins from the Fire Brigades Union said it planned to hold talks with South Wales Fire Service management about the plan which has "caused a lot of upset at station level".

We believe this is another needless attack on our members conditions of service
FBU spokesman

"The FBU in south Wales does not see a reason for removing these welfare facilities," he said.

"They are paid for by station staff and the only time this equipment is used is at meal times or during stand down shifts such as public holidays.

"We believe the brigade are removing this equipment on the back of its modernisation programme.

"And we believe this is another needless attack on our members conditions of service at a time when our members are performing both their preventions and intervention duties at a higher level than ever before."

Bosses at the brigade want its 50 stations to become "community stations" in order to improve relations with the public including children and young people.

It follows several years of violence against firefighters as they carry out their duties by gangs of youths in many parts of the service area.

Dart board
Dart boards are not thought to present a "professional" image

Station Commanders from across south Wales took part in discussions about the community station scheme and the outcome of those seminars was reported back to staff via the Intervention Matters newsletter.

It said: "Whilst stations like Ely [in Cardiff] are purpose-built to deliver a wider range of services and encourage members of the public to come inside, it was agreed that the majority of stations require an immediate makeover to make them fit for purpose and to ensure visitors leave with a positive first impression.

"It was agreed that on some stations the priority will be to adapt existing facilities to create a community room or make the station more visitor friendly.

"On others the priority will be to ensure that visitors do not encounter snooker tables, dartboards, three-piece suites and other items that dissuade people from viewing firefighters as professional people delivering a professional service.

"It is accepted that the removal of snooker tables and the replacement of three-piece suites with something more appropriate will be an emotive issue (for some), however it is hoped that the majority see it for what it is - a long overdue effort to improve the image of our stations and the status of the fire-fighters who serve there."

A spokesman for the brigade said the process of upgrading the fire stations and the removal of the recreational games would be done in phases.

Fire service HQ put up for sale
27 Apr 07 |  South East Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific