Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to pilot additional crews

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) will introduce additional fire crews after Fire Authority members approved proposals for two new pilots.

There are three aerial ladder platforms (ALPs) stationed across Tyne and Wear, which are used to respond to various incidents at height. When required, ALPs are crewed by firefighters that would usually crew a regular fire engine, whereas the first pilot will introduce a dedicated crew for the ALP based at Marley Park Community Fire Station.

This would mean that the Service will have one ALP readily available at all times and reduce the risk that the crew which would usually staff the ALP are already at an incident, which could lead to delays in responding effectively to a fire in a tall building.

An aerial ladder platform in use at a fire in Felling during May 2020

The second pilot will see an additional fire engine and crew introduced at West Denton Community Fire Station. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, staff availability and ensuring that the Service remains resilient is more important than ever.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath explained: “The budget cuts we’ve faced over the last 10 years or so have meant we have had to make some difficult decisions, but we have continued to provide our services without compromising public safety.

Although we still face some uncertainty over our financial position longer-term, thanks to savings made through efficient ways of working and effective budget control we are now able to make some significant reinvestments in our Service.”

TWFRS will use its existing pool of operational staff to carry out the pilots, which will start imminently. The pilots will inform detailed proposals for how the Service is shaped for the future, through its Integrated Risk Management Plan 2020-23.

ACO Heath continued: “These proposals have been developed based on a thorough review of the risks we face and the resources available. I believe these options could prove very effective in strengthening our Service and I’d like to thank the Fire Authority for their support and ongoing commitment to promoting community safety.”

Fire Authority members also agreed to retain the current level of staffing in the TWFRS control room, which had been under review. The second firefighter training course of 2020 is currently ongoing and the Service is planning another recruitment campaign soon.

ACO Peter Heath

In addition, work is underway to replace several older fire engines and introduce state of the art appliances and equipment. The Service’s fire boat has recently been fully refurbished and following the introduction of body worn cameras for all frontline officers last year, additional stocks will be purchased for senior officers to support firefighter safety.

ACO Heath concluded: “It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of all of my colleagues that we have risen to the financial challenges we have faced and are finally able to re-invest in our Service.

To serve Tyne and Wear effectively, we must ensure that both community and firefighter safety is maximised, that we have a diverse and skilled workforce and that we use data and technology to drive improvement.”