HEREFORD and Worcester fire chiefs have agreed to reduce the number of full-time teams working at night.

Hereford fire station will remain fully manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But overnight, its second team will now be made up of retained firefighters.

Councillors on Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority decided this week to have the second crew at both city stations work on a 12-hour duty system during the day.

These changes will come into force as soon as they are deemed practicably possible by chief fire officer Nathan Travis.

The fire service had been operating with the second team on a day crew plus system.

But this was deemed likely to be unlawful following a High Court challenge brought by the Fire Brigades Union against South Yorkshire Fire Authority who had a similar crewing arrangements which were in breach of working time regulations.

The service could only make their previous set-up legal by reaching a collective agreement with the unions to modify the regulations.

The fire authority say the situation was not a sustainable position to maintain.

The authority would be potentially be criminally liable if it were to continue with the previous set-up.

Chairman Roger Phillips said the previous working arrangement was popular among local crews and the authority.

“The local firefighters and the fire authority would have preferred to maintain the existing day crew plus system at Hereford.

“We will now move to a 12-hour duty system and use a retained firefighter presence at night.”

He added that call outs in Hereford at night average just under two per week over the last four years.