Friday, 20 October 2017

Residents urged to help save fire station

RESIDENTS of Wargrave are being urged to help save the village fire station from closure.

The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority needs to save
£2.4million by 2020 and has suggested seven cost-saving measures, three of which include shutting the station in Victoria Road.

A public consultation on the options ends on Monday.

The call to save the station is made in an open letter to residents bv John Halsall and Bob Pitts, the village’s two representatives on Wokingham Borough Council.

They say: “The fire station, which has been here since 1903, will be closed unless there is an overwhelming response from the residents that it should be retained.

“One of the services that Wargrave fire service offers is the NHS responder unit, which responds to 20 to 30 calls per month and generates valuable income for the service.

“It deals with the early recognition and call for help to prevent cardiac arrest, early CPR to buy time, early defibrillation to restart the heart and post-resuscitation care to restore the quality of life. This has not been considered in the consultation.

“You may need either the fire and rescue service or the responder service. They may save your life or your neighbour’s or your child’s.

“Can you afford to wait for an engine from Maidenhead or Wokingham?”

The letter also says that Wargrave fire station is cheaper to run than some of the other stations involved in the consultation as it has only nine retained firefighters.

The letter says: “The analysis, though voluminous, is flawed as it assumes that a retained station costs £168,000 per annum on average. This assumes a full establishment which has not been Wargrave’s case. Wargrave’s costs are a fraction of this sum.”

 Last month, Councillor Halsall suggested that the fire authority should save money by abolishing special allowances to councillors.

Four members of the borough council receive a total of £15,300, on top of their councillor allowances, for being members of the authority.

The letter says: “The consultation does not offer every saving. For example, some £80,000 to £100,000 is paid every year to the 16 councillors who are appointed by the six Berkshire unitaries, which have already paid them once.”

The councillors also called on residents to volunteer as retained firefighters at the station, which has historically struggled with recruitment.

They said: “It takes six months to a year for a recruit to be fully trained and then be a full member of the team.

“The shortfall in staff has meant that the appliance could not be manned and has affected the historic statistics, suggesting that response rate is very low. This is being rectified.

“Maybe you could apply to be a firefighter — it is a good additional income and great fun.”

The feedback from the consultation will be considered at a meeting of the fire authority on April 18 and the final decision on the options will be made in May.

The consultation document can be viewed online at www.rbfrs.co.uk/consultation

To comment, call 0118 938 4331, email irmp@rbfrs.co.uk or write to: Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, IRMP Consultation, Newsham Court, Pincents Kiln, Calcot, Reading, Berkshire, RG31 7SD.

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