Firefighters to get ‘Travelodge-style’ station in job-saving shake-up

Seaham Fire Station, junction of Princess Road and Parkside Road.
Seaham Fire Station, junction of Princess Road and Parkside Road.
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A FIRE station will lose 10 firefighters as it plans to build a “Travelodge-style” housing development so officers can live on site during shifts.

The move to day crewing could mean a pool of 14 officers will be based at Seaham, working 12 hours on active tasks then remaining on the premises on call for the other 12.

The watch manager, three crew managers and 10 firefighters would allocate the shifts for five people between them, with the service saying the set-up will allow more flexibility with fewer people as it makes savings.

The crews will be able to take their families to stay on the station, with planning permission submitted for the accommodation, which could be built on the Princess Road side of its site.

As it stands, 24 officers work out of the station and are split into four watches of six people, with five on duty at any one time and covering runs of nine-hour day shifts or 15-hour nightshifts.

Those who do not remain at the station if the plans go ahead will work elsewhere, with 10 jobs to go in time through retirement and those who leave the service.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) has said that while facilities will not be lost and it knows savings must be made, it is concerned about the impact on the community and effect it could have on the officers’ family lives and working hours.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service says consultation on the Day Crewing Plus project in Seaham, as well as Newton Aycliffe, has been launched as it looks to deal with a reduction in Government funding, while it maintains the same number of appliances and its response times.

Area manager Andy Hopkinson, head of operational performance and support, said: “Day Crewing Plus is a proven shift system already in use in other fire and rescue services across the country that allows us to make the necessary savings whilst maintaining the same 24/7 emergency response that we currently provide.”

The service has said firefighters would not live permanently in the station accommodation, which has been described as a “Travelodge-style development”, and would return home on rest days and holidays.

The amount of savings which would be made and cost of the build have not been revealed.

Pete Wilcox, regional secretary for the FBU, said: “There will be a reduction of firefighters at that station and in that area.

“We are in discussion with our members to best represent their concerns and the fact is, we don’t believe it is in the interest of the community and how they are best served.

“It goes back to draconian and Victorian ages, and there has to be a work-life balance.”

A drop-in session is being held at the station from 1pm to 7pm on Thursday when residents can find out more.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham