Changes to crewing at Bromsgrove, Hereford, and Worcester Fire Stations
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is required to change the current Day Crewing Plus (DCP) shift systems at Hereford, Worcester, and Bromsgrove Fire Stations, in response to a high court ruling.
This affects only two out of four full-time appliances at Hereford and Worcester stations and one full-time appliance at Bromsgrove.
Over the last three years, with the full cooperation of the crews, these three stations have successfully operated a duty system very similar to one at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. However, following a challenge from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) the High Court recently ruled such systems were unlawful, as without a local agreement in place, it contravenes some of the Working Time Regulations (WTR) – specifically about night-time working and daily rest periods.
In HWFRS a similar duty system is voluntary and requires each firefighter to opt out of normal working hours outlined within the WTR. This shift system operates in accordance with the principles of 'self-rostering' to ensure that crewing levels can be maintained, yet enables an appropriate work/life balance. Each full shift consists of 12 'positive hours' and 12 'on-call hours'.
HWFRS could continue operating the DCP duty system if a local collective agreement could be reached with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). However, our request for such an agreement has not been met by the FBU, which maintains that DCP is unlawful as it involves breaches of the WTR.
Because of the refusal of the FBU to enter into a local agreement to this duty system, crewing arrangements on the full-time appliance at Bromsgrove and the second full-time appliances at both Hereford and Worcester stations now need to be changed in the coming months to ensure compliance with the WTR.
Therefore, we propose that the existing DCP appliances will transition to a duty system that is in line with the original Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2014-2020, and the CRMP Risk Review 2018. The final details of the system will follow a proportionate public consultation period, to ensure confidence in the future emergency cover arrangements, and further consultation with the staff.
At a press briefing, Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: "DCP has served these communities and the fire crews well, but now that the lawfulness of the system has been tested in the courts, it cannot continue without the agreement of the FBU. Instead we have to ensure the on-going safety of our towns and cities by implementing another duty system, which is legal, affordable, sustainable, and provides the resilience required of the CRMP.
"The Fire Authority will ensure, following the consultation process, that all our communities continue to be appropriately protected, and that existing wholetime and on-call crews are able to combine their skills, knowledge, and experience to deliver the required change.
"HWFRS continually assesses the deployment of resources throughout the two counties to maintain appropriate fire cover and to protect our communities. The scrutiny applied to this process will ensure that the Service continues to balance its available resources with the known risks."