'The Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet have tonight (Thursday) given the go ahead for controversial plans to change how the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service operates – despite the Scrutiny Committee recommending the plans are deferred for 6 weeks.
All members of the cabinet voted in favour of the plans, going against the pleas of the Fire Bridges Union (FBU), its members and the recommendation of the Council’s own Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.
They came to their unanimous decision after just 15 minutes of discussion about the plans.
The FBU had warned that the safety of firefighters on the Isle of Wight and the public they protect would be put at risk if the plans were given the go-ahead tonight.
Now that the review plans have been granted approval, fire appliances on the Isle of Wight could be operated with just 4 ‘riders’ – that is the number of firefighters on each appliance. The shift patterns for our dedicated crews will also change with 12 firefighters guaranteed for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
However, Councillor Outlaw said at tonight’s Cabinet meeting that no changes will be made until the HMICFRS report is received. There will also be engagement from the Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire, Neil Odin, to ensure the new shift patterns work for ‘everyone’.
Spence Cave, Brigade Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union on the Isle of Wight, earlier this week said:
“Having only four firefighters on a fire engine will place crews and the public at an intolerable risk of serious harm or possibly worse. The cabinet should reject this unacceptable, dangerous proposal immediately.
“A crew of four not only puts firefighters at greater risk but also the public. You need five firefighters in a crew in order to carry out safety critical jobs. Anything less and it means we cannot properly prepare for either firefighting or rescue operations.
“There is a real possibility that a crew of four turn out to a house fire but cannot affect any rescues until backup arrives. They face a huge moral dilemma. Either break service protocol and begin rescue operations without the right support, for which they increase the risk of being seriously injured themselves, or they wait for backup and hope those in danger can survive. In most cases the firefighters will step in but it is a very dangerous and hazardous way of working. There maybe casualties as a result”.
During a meeting at Ryde Fire Station last night (Wednesday), questions were raised by firefighters whether under the new arrangements Ryde would be left with only 1 fire appliance at night, crewed by retained staff. Currently it has at least 1 guaranteed pump at night with up to a possible 3, plus an aerial appliance.'
Read more: Isle of Wight Mafia-controlled couldn't-give-a-damn-about-the people council agrees controversial fire safety (danger) plans