- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly Member Joyce Watson and Brecon Town Councillor Matthew Dorrance have met Powys firefighters to raise concerns about volunteer recruitment in the county.
At the meeting with Fire Officer David Sheppard at Brecon Fire Station on Wednesday (6 September), the local representatives were given an update on the decision to replace full-time, frontline emergency crews with retained firefighters in three Powys towns.
In a bid to save £1.2 million, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is redeploying 21 firefighters in Newtown, Llandrindod Wells and Brecon to work in the community. Their role will be filled by part-time, retained firefighters, who will respond to 999 calls and major incidents.
Commenting on the controversial plans, Joyce Watson AM (Mid and West Wales) said:
“Despite the fire service’s assurances that response times will not be affected, I am concerned that in a rural area like this, where small businesses might be reluctant or unable to employ staff on flexible arrangements, recruiting enough part-time firefighters to cover emergencies could prove to be a real problem.
“In that case, response times and lives could be put at risk.”
Cllr Dorrance, who represents St John Ward, added:
“Our full-time and retained firefighters do an incredible job and deserve our wholehearted support. It is regrettable that there will be a greater reliance on voluntary goodwill, and the situation must be closely monitored to ensure that the public, and fire crews themselves, are not put at risk for the sake of saving money.”
Mrs Watson and Cllr Dorrance also discussed the successful Brecon Young Firefighters (YFF) scheme.
YFF started five years ago and is open to young people aged 13 to 17. Training includes operational drills, first aid, fire safety education and leadership.
In May, nine members of Brecon Young Firefighters became the first young people from the scheme to gain the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s award. They are working towards their silver award this year.