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Berkshire fire service considers smaller vehicles to tackle crew shortage

  • 9-12-2015

The Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service (RBFRS) is looking at replacing some of its traditional fire engines to tackle a shortage of crews.

Chief fire officer Andy Fry told the BBC he was considering "a different kind of vehicle that has less crew" as an initial response to emergencies.

The service is currently 20 full-time firefighters short of the potential roster of 328.

Smaller appliances are already in use by fire services around the country.

'New recruits'

Mr Fry told BBC South Today budget cuts meant it was "increasingly difficult" to guarantee the minimum crew of four needed to put a traditional appliance on the road at some of its stations.

To stay within budget, the service has had a recruitment freeze in the past five years during which the "workforce has naturally aged and numbers reduced".

The service currently employs 308 full-time firefighters at stations crewed 24 hours a day and at "retained" stations, which are manned by part-time firefighters not based at the fire station.

RBFRS is able to employ 328 full-time station-based firefighters.

A spokeswoman said 15 new recruits would shortly start their training, which would help ease the crew shortage issue.

She added: "We regularly review all of our resources, including our fleet of vehicles, to ensure we can provide the best possible service to the public.

"RBFRS has no firm plans to change the types of vehicles we use at this time - this is just one of many options we may consider in the future.

"If any future proposals should be developed, these would first need to be presented to Fire Authority members for their approval, before being subject to a full staff and public consultation process."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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