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Update on the Safer Together Programme

Since the Fire Authority meeting in January, the service has been planning on implementing the changes that were agreed by the Fire Authority. The coronavirus will have an impact on the timing of some of the implementation plans but we have outlined some of the changes that will be taking place in the next week.

Totnes and Martock second fire engine

The second fire engines at Martock and Totnes are to be removed on 27 March. The first fire engines at those fire stations will continue to operate as they do now. If additional firefighters are required at an incident, they will either attend in another type of vehicle from that fire station or from the next nearest available fire station.

Often additional firefighters, not additional fire engines are required at larger incidents. Therefore, on many occasions a fire engine is only used to transport firefighters from a fire station to the incident as the amount of equipment available on the first attending vehicles is sufficient. Totnes has another vehicle which could be used to transport firefighters and Martock will be receiving a Land Rover vehicle for this purpose.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO), Pete Bond, Director of Service Improvement added: “We are working with the crews at Martock and Totnes and their local management teams to ensure your community will be served by a well-resourced on-call fire engine in the future.”

Budleigh Salterton Fire Station

Budleigh Salterton fire station will close on Friday 3 April with most of the firefighters transferring to Exmouth fire station. This will mean that the fire engine crewed by on-call firefighters at Exmouth will be available more often during the day.

The Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth on-call crews have trained together for some time and often support each other at incidents. Bringing together their local knowledge and expertise creates a great foundation for our new Exmouth on-call crew.

We appreciate that losing a fire station will also be a significant change for the community. We had planned to hold drop-in events which have now been cancelled due to the coronavirus but we are looking at alternative ways to link up with residents in the area.

The geographical area within which the Budleigh Salterton fire crew responds to incidents is within the 10-minute emergency response area of Exmouth fire station. Under the new arrangements, Exmouth fire station staff will also be able to support activities to promote home safety in Budleigh Salterton, in our efforts to prevent incidents occurring.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO), Pete Bond, Director of Service Improvement, said: “These changes are part of a larger Service change programme which will enable us to move our resources to the areas where they are most needed. We recognise that people living near these fire stations may be concerned and we want to be clear that they will continue to receive a response from fire crews in the unlikely event that they need one.”

If you have any questions or concerns about this you can email us at

The Service is recruiting on-call firefighters across the Service. If you are interested in joining us and helping to keep your local fire engine available, look for more information on our website



Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority approves recommendations (10 January 2020)

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority has approved recommendations on changes to how the Service operates. The recommendations were considered and approved at the Fire Authority meeting on the 10 January. This follows the public consultation exercise in 2019.

Learn more about the outcomes of the meeting and approved recommendations

Fire Authority recommendations published (2 January 2020)


We have published our recommendations on how our services should be delivered in the future, following the public consultation exercise last year. The Fire Authority will consider the recommendations at its meeting on the 10 January 2020. The full Fire Authority paper for this meeting contains further information about the recommendations.


We have also published the consultation findings and reports.


Latest Updates (as at 7 October 2019)


During the 12-week consultation, the Service received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions.


All responses were independently analysed by Opinion Research Services (ORS) who provided the Authority with the findings from the consultation. Due to the large amount of submissions and analysis needed, ORS required more time to thoroughly review the responses to the consultation.


Because of this, the Authority meeting to review the results of the consultation and decide upon the future of the Service, which was due to take place in November, took place on Friday 10 January 2020.


Engagement Figures


For the start of the consultation, we printed 4,000 public consultation questionnaires:


  • All 85 fire stations across Devon and Somerset received 30 copies for staff and communities to complete.

  • Due to high demand, we have printed a further 3,000 paper copies.


As of the end of week 12 (of the 12 week consultation period) we had received:


3300 completed public consultation questionnaires.


82% of respondents were members of the public, with 10% Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue staff, 2% stating they were responding on behalf of an organisation (including parish and town councils, girl guide groups and local history groups),  and 6% preferring not to say.


We engaged with 1711, members of the public at our public consultation events. We held 27 public events across the two counties.


What people said about our drop-in events



“I think you’ve done very well at presenting this very complicated information in a way that I can understand” said Ruth. “I think it’s great that you’re involving the public about this, because so often we don’t feel included in the decision making process”. Looking at the current map of 85 stations across Devon and Somerset, she said: “yes, I can see if these station locations were decided so long ago that modern life, population increases, changes in road systems means that a redistribution of resources of the Service is absolutely necessary”.


Ruth also said she found the drop-in event helpful as she could see the options clearly in large print (displayed visually on the table) and this was helpful to have the options explained by a member of the team to help her understand the options presented.  


Public response
We received a huge response to our dedicated Safer Together email inbox ( .

Having established a breakdown of these emails, we can see that the public, parish councils and our own staff are the most actively engaging with us. We had requests for: further information, copies of the consultation document, people using the email as a channel for forwarding their views on the consultation..

Out of 544 emails we received, here’s a breakdown of the emails by group:


Emails received
% of total emails
City Council
County Council
District Council
Parish Council
Town Council
Venue hire


Staff response

We held a staff engagement day at Service Headquarters and a series of subsequent mini-roadshows at key stations. These events allowed our staff to hear more about the proposed consultation options and participate in a Q&A. The engagement event was streamed via Facebook Workplace and made available to all stations, enabling all staff to view and put forward questions live.








Key themes

There were a number of emerging themes and discussion points raised through the consultation questionnaires:


  • Challenges around our data provided (particularly response times and number of shouts).

  • Whether we own or lease our fire stations.

  • Is the consultation a ‘tick box’ exercise? Has the decision has already been made?

  • Some acknowledgement that the service needs to change to meet today’s risk and make best use of resources.

  • What is the scope of the modern fire and rescue service?

  • Seeking reassurance that communities will be still be protected if services are reduced.



Outside of the official consultation questionnaire, we’re also saw:


  • Social media groups - Local communities raising awareness of the proposals in online groups.  


  • Additional data and facts circulating. These may be adding to confusion and contradict our risk modelling data. However, ‘the noise’ is raising visibility to the public consultation and we’re hoping people will be compelled to take part in our online consultation and express their views. 


  • Fire Authority members: is the independent body which ensures that the local fire and rescue service performs efficiently and in the best interests of the public and community it serves. Members are currently in ‘listening mode’ and reading and absorbing everything that comes their way.


Fire Authority member, Rob Hannaford stated his views in an interview with The Breeze radio he said: “What a fire service does may be more complex than it first appears, that’s exactly what we want to capture – in November when we make the final decision we want to be making that from a really intelligent position, so we can make a good case to keep things open if needed”.  


  • Primary Schools sent through some children’s drawings explaining in their own words and pictures what the consultation means to them. (See below an example from Ashburton Primary School, year 2).


  • Independent public meetings: we are aware of some independent public meetings where the local community organised events to discuss the consultation and the options in more detail.


  • Local fire stations. Steve Fowler, Sidmouth Fire Station Commander, provided a statement to the Sidmouth Herald encouraging people to actively take part in the public consultation and to provide their views. This has had a positive impact on local engagement with our communities.  


  • Protest marches: We’ve seen local community marches in Ashburton and Porlock to express their concerns over their local station closures. Some of these have made media headlines.

  • Petitions: Four public petitions are in circulation (to protect fire stations in Colyton, Topsham, Porlock and a general petition for Fire Services in Devon and Somerset), these are raising awareness of the changes. If you have signed a petition, we encourage you to also complete our public consultation questionnaire to ensure we can capture your feedback. Find out more about the value of petitions and our consultation process.


Thank you to petition organisers for reaching out to communities to spread the completion of the consultation document.


What we have done as a result of your feedback?


We’re continually responding to feedback as we go through the 12 week consultation period (3 July 2019 until 22 September 2019). Here are some changes that we’ve made as a result of what people have said.


1) Clarifying Option 7 - ‘mix and match’


3 July - The official launch date of the public consultation was delayed by two days to allow us to draft and include the additional ‘option 7’ proposed by the Fire Authority. This was added as an addendum within the consultation document. The consultation was also officially launched online and will run for 12 weeks.


8 July - To clear any confusion, we created a video explaining option 7 by Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Pete Bond. Pete tells us here why it is important for you to give specific feedback in the consultation survey, whether you complete it online or on paper.

17 July - We listened to your feedback and updated the online and future editions of the consultation document with an option 7 page (removing the need for a separate paper insert). The revised version has been published on our website.


10 July - Responding to public demand, we also arranged two additional drop in public events in Exmouth (23 July, 3-7pm) and Paignton (3rd Sept, 2-6pm). Find out about our full list of public consultation events.


2) Understanding the whole picture


12 July - You let us know that you didn’t understand why the options for change had been proposed. The public consultation has stemmed from many months of Risk Management Planning. You can review the Integrated Risk Management Plan poster and watch a short video explaining the background on our website. 


14 July - To ensure people could see ‘the whole picture’ ie, our existing 85 stations (and understand the service provide across the two counties of Devon and Somerset) we have shared copies of a map of all of our stations at our public events. See image below.



18 July - To help our communities understand why we are making changes to the service, we launched our official public consultation video. Many people have perceived the service changes proposed to be purely a ‘cost cutting’ exercise. It hasn’t helped that the national news coverage referred to the consultation as the ‘Fire Cuts’ consultation. We think differently, and have explained why we need to modernise and adapt to today’s world. Watch the full video here.




19 July - Due to the high volume of attendance at our consultation drop in events and the numbers of requests received for paper copies from a variety of different groups, individuals and organisations we had to request a further reprint of 3000 copies.


3) Public meetings and information requests


2 August - We’ve received comments on social media suggesting that we should have held ‘public meeting’ style events rather than the ‘drop-in’ format. In response, we have explained that we’ve found the drop-in format to be more helpful in having direct conversations and engagement with people. We’ve detailed more information on our website.


3 August - We also received an FOI request for the modelling results for each station to provide a better indication of the likely local effect on communities. Find out more about how our risk modelling data was collected.


14 August - We announced our public Facebook Live event on Thursday 29 August. Polling the timings to ensure maximum attendance.


15 August - We added a new drop-in event in Ilfracombe on 30 August. Due to changes in crewing at the station in 2013 it was deemed appropriate that we provided a consultation event in Ilfracombe.
Find out more about our public drop-in events.



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