UPDATE: Concerns over age of fire fighters

UPDATE: Concerns over age of fire fighters

RECRUITMENT: Chief fire officer Darran Gunter

CRITICAL SERVICE: Mike Byatt

UPDATE: Concerns over age of fire fighters

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

THE increasing age of the county’s firefighters is a ‘major concern’ to those at the helm.

Dorset Fire Authority has voted to raise taxpayers’ contribution to the service by 1.93 per cent.

This means that a Band D property will pay £1.26 more, paying £66.60.

But members said they want to see more money put into recruitment after Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter revealed that 71 per cent of those on the front line are aged over 40.

There are no whole time firefighters under the age of 25, thanks to a seven-year recruitment freeze.

And only one manager in Dorset Fire and Rescue Service is under 40.

Mr Gunter said the ‘imbalance’ is becoming a ‘huge risk’ but cuts in the service need to be made.

There are currently 12 firefighter vacancies and this number is expected to rise to 19 by the end of the year, Mr Gunter said.

Cllr Philip Eades said he would only support the precept increase if recruitment was addressed as soon as possible.

Cllr Mike Byatt added: “It is critical that we have a workforce of fit firefighters.

“It’s the firefighters who are the bedrock of what we are here for – to provide a fire and rescue service to the public.”

Dorset’s level of total funding per head of population is the fourth lowest of the country’s 30 stand-alone authorities.

Wiltshire – the authority with which Dorset is in talks over a possible merger – is the second lowest.

Mr Gunter said he would take the issue of recruitment to the authority’s audit and scrutiny committee.

He said that ‘no other authority across Dorset, Bournemouth or Poole’ is in the same ‘league’ as the fire service when it comes to making savings.

He said the service is at the ‘forefront’ when it comes to this and staff are working ‘as hard as they can.’ Cllr Sue Levell said she didn’t believe anyone would complain about an increase of £1.26 which is ‘less than half the price of a cup of coffee’.

She added: “It is ludicrous to sit around here and talk about £1.26.

“I am 100 per cent behind the increase.”

Comments (4)

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7:34pm Wed 12 Feb 14

NearlyLocal says...

Great. Paying even more so that they can sleep all night.
Great. Paying even more so that they can sleep all night. NearlyLocal
  • Score: -61

8:04pm Thu 13 Feb 14

FF2339 says...

Sleep all night? Have you ever been a Firefighter? We don't sleep all night, far from it. 2 or 3 calls can ensure you get no rest period all night. Bearing in mind the recent floods, never mind normal incidents. Firefighters work very hard on a 15 hour night shift (I'd wager nearly twice as long as the average working day). And if we do get the occasional nap, what's the problem? Would you like to be rescued by someone well rested, or by someone who has been forced to stay up all night just so pedants like you feel they have got value for money? Before you criticise, walk a mile in my shoes.
Sleep all night? Have you ever been a Firefighter? We don't sleep all night, far from it. 2 or 3 calls can ensure you get no rest period all night. Bearing in mind the recent floods, never mind normal incidents. Firefighters work very hard on a 15 hour night shift (I'd wager nearly twice as long as the average working day). And if we do get the occasional nap, what's the problem? Would you like to be rescued by someone well rested, or by someone who has been forced to stay up all night just so pedants like you feel they have got value for money? Before you criticise, walk a mile in my shoes. FF2339
  • Score: 32

9:18pm Thu 13 Feb 14

skye2491 says...

I was retained for more than 23 years I can a sure you that it's not all sleep i have friends that are full time firefighter who work very hard.. nearly local you should contact your local station and spend some time with a crew just to see what a days work is like fighting fire and attending RTAs
I was retained for more than 23 years I can a sure you that it's not all sleep i have friends that are full time firefighter who work very hard.. nearly local you should contact your local station and spend some time with a crew just to see what a days work is like fighting fire and attending RTAs skye2491
  • Score: 20

10:14am Fri 14 Feb 14

Rocksalt says...

If there is a problem with an ageing workforce then isn't the answer a redundancy scheme ?. Rightly or wrongly the government seems to think that's the answer in the armed forces. Older and more expensive people are paid off and new people recruited. The army has been shrinking for years, but there isn't a recruitment freeze. I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I am not sure why it is right for one organisation but nit the other. Is it just that the redundancy costs are much higher for the Fire Service ?
If there is a problem with an ageing workforce then isn't the answer a redundancy scheme ?. Rightly or wrongly the government seems to think that's the answer in the armed forces. Older and more expensive people are paid off and new people recruited. The army has been shrinking for years, but there isn't a recruitment freeze. I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I am not sure why it is right for one organisation but nit the other. Is it just that the redundancy costs are much higher for the Fire Service ? Rocksalt
  • Score: -2

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