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Safer Together - how we will change to meet your needs

We are here to protect and save

We work every day with our communities and partners to prevent emergencies and to make you safer in your home, place of work and where you visit.

Keeping people safe is why we are launching our Safer Together programme.

Safer Together will change the way we work to ensure we are responding to current and future risks in our two counties.

Why we are changing now

Much of what we do as a fire service has not changed for 40 years, while everything else around us has changed significantly. New large housing developments, people living further away from their places of work, an increasingly elderly population, changes to technology and far fewer fires are all reasons we need to adapt.

The locations of our fire stations and the way they are crewed don’t currently address all of these issues.

Some areas are really busy, while others have seen a large reduction in incidents. We have a number of stations where firefighters are ‘On-call’ – this means that they are fully trained firefighters but have other jobs and have to be located within five minutes on the fire stations when they are ‘on-call’. Your local station may actually only get a few incidents to respond to. More than a quarter of our stations respond to fewer than 10 incidents a year.

We also need to make significant cost savings.

What we’ll be considering as part of Safer Together:

• Firefighter shift patterns
• Locations of some fire stations
• Refurbishment or rebuilding of fire stations
• Location and number of different types of fire engines (also called appliances)
• New types of fire engines
• New equipment for firefighters
• Improved digital technology to support our work
• Shift systems at fire stations, such as on-call or daytime only.


Here’s a bit more detail…

How we’ve already helped reduce the number of fires

Thankfully, in the last 10 years, fires have reduced by 36% nationally. This reduction has largely been due to two things - our work around fire prevention and protection, and changes in technology and habits.

Every year we carry out about 27,700 hours of prevention activities across Devon and Somerset, including home safety visits, school talks and visiting other groups. We also carry out checks and audits for non-domestic premises and events – around 18,300 hours a year.

There have been significant changes in both technology and our daily habits which have impacted the number of fires. The smoking ban; changes to furniture and furnishing regulations; and even the introduction of the oven chip meaning we deep-fry less, have all contributed to reducing fire risks inside the home.

This means that 23 out of our 85 stations attend fewer than 10 fires a year, and sometimes these might only be minor fires, such as dustbin fires.

We need to adapt to our ever-changing population

Not only have our lives and habits changed, our population and where you live in Devon and Somerset has changed too.

In the past few years we have seen significant new housing developments happening across our two counties, and these new developments are continuing to grow. This means we need to assess where we are located in relation to this massive population change.

Through our risk analysis and risk profiling, we also know some people will be more at risk of being involved in a fatal fire due to certain factors, and we need to ensure we are able to take steps to reduce the likelihood of these incidents.

For example, we know that those aged over 85 have a much higher rate of fatal fires. In Devon and Somerset, it is predicted that the number of people aged over 85 will increase by a third in the next ten years.

That means we need to take steps to reduce the risk of incidents happening, through our prevention work. As part of our Safer Together changes we will be freeing up crews to get out into the community to carry out prevention work.

As part of our Safer Together change programme we have been analysing our own data as well as data from partners.

We have identified where the risks are greatest in terms of location, household types, times of day and seasonal variation.

This new intelligence means we now aim to match our resources - our crews, equipment and fleet - to the risks specific to each of our communities, whilst also enabling us to increase our capacity for important prevention and protection work activity within our annual budget.

We will soon be launching our Safer Together public consultation, to give you the chance to have your say in the future of our service.

Not only will the Safer Together programme save public money, it will mean we can be a more efficient, fit for purpose, high performing fire and rescue service that you can be proud of.

We encourage you to get involved and have your say, either by attending one of our consultation events, or by completing our online consultation survey. We will provide further information when it is available.

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