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Firefighter shift patterns could change to increase coverage at the busiest times under a new model to be considered by the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet.

The move would ‘match resources with peak demand’, as identified by research, and ‘improve the efficiency of the service’.

It would guarantee a minimum of 12 immediately available firefighters for 12 hours a day, every day say the Council.

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In addition, the new shift system would reduce times when only 1 fire engine is available and improve response times by 3 hours during the week and 12 hours at weekends.

There will be no redundancies from the adoption of the new system, which would mainly affect Newport – the Island’s only 24-hour fire station.

Councillor Tig Outlaw, Cabinet member in charge of the fire service has said:

“This new shift system and levelling out of rostered staff makes absolute sense and would improve safety for Islanders.

“More firefighters would be on duty when research says there is most demand and it would have no negative impact on response times.

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“It would also allow the service to reflect the modern role it now has. There are fewer fires and fire safety work is increasingly important, so this needs to be factored into how the service is run.”

Howard Watts, the Island’s most senior fire officer, added:

“Our fire service needs to evolve and respond to the challenges it faces in the 21st century and this new system would very much help in that process and improve what we can do.

“Under the existing arrangements we sometimes have up to 20 firefighters on duty during the day at Newport and Ryde, which is far above the minimum standards, and levelling out rostering and changing the shifts would help us direct resources to where and when we need them.

“It is important that the appropriate number of firefighters are assigned to an engine and, at night, five firefighters will be used, but it must also be recognised that modern equipment and techniques allows four firefighters to do the job too and, importantly, this is common practice across the country.”

The review will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting, to be held at Ventnor Winter Gardens on Thursday 11th October at 17:00.

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