A COUNCILLOR has called for a further firefighter to be added to the crewing levels in Hereford while the fire authority discussed the reduction of crews at Worcestershire stations.
Bosses of the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service want to implement a decision made in 2014 to have four firefighters per crew at six fire stations in Worcestershire.
The fire authority meeting at Hereford's Shirehall heard that money had been used from reserves to provide a fifth firefighter for the past two years but that the fire service was not prepared to take any further money from reserves.
Herefordshire councillor, Jim Kenyon, who is on the fire authority committee said: "I see five well-dressed fire officers in front of me- five at a committee meeting. There should be the same on a fire engine."
But Nathan Travis, chief fire officer, said the two crews in Hereford already have four firefighters on each crew.
Cllr Kenyon said: "But are we getting away with it? Is it safe?"
Mr Travis said there is a risk-assessed approach and if there is a house fire, two crews are always sent and if there is a house fire with a person trapped, three crews are sent, so there is enough back-up at the scene.
But Cllr Kenyon said he was still concerned as there is just one full time fire station in Herefordshire, while there are four in Worcestershire.
He said: "My plea would be to run five and four firefighters for the two crews in Hereford, even if it is an exception."
Concerns were raised about the safety of firefighters and members of the public if crews were reduced at the six stations suggested- Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Kidderminster, Redditch and Bromsgrove.
But the meeting was told that risk assessments had been carried out and that 44 percent of all mobilisation across the service area is already done with a crew of four.
Mr Travis said there is the possibility of providing further resilience at the six stations if duty systems are adjusted.
Councillor Bruce Baker said: "We really must support the recommendations of the senior staff - they have had a few years of doing this job.
"If they suggest four on a crew is safe, then we must really support it."
The authority voted in favour of the recommendations.
After the meeting Steven Gould, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Worcestershire, said: "It is astounding that the fire authority is willing to condemn their firefighters to working in much more dangerous circumstances.
“A crew of four not only puts firefighters at greater risk but also the public - you need five firefighters in a crew in order to carry out safety critical jobs."