Staff money-saving ideas save fire service £3 million

24 January 2012

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24 January 2012 | Angeline Albert   

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has identified savings of £3 million by following staff suggestions, which include deferring the purchase of fire engines and extending the life of existing vehicles.

The fire service must save £4 million between 2011/12 and 2014/15 as a result of a cut to its £21 million budget. It follows the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review decision to reduce its grant funding.

The organisation is now on track to meet this target after asking staff to come up with money saving tips for the organisation last April. More than 300 suggestions were made, which were then whittled down to 25 during a six-month period.  

Following discussions with procurement staff, who manage an annual purchasing spend of £1 million, the service decided to extend the life of its fire engines from 13 to 15 years, which enables it to defer the purchase of new vehicles.

The service is also reducing its building maintenance budget by £50,000 and cutting capital spending. The latter programme is being reduced by £60,000 a year in 2011/12, £90,000 in 2012/13, £50,000 in 2013/14 and £125,000 in 2014/15.

Deputy chief fire officer John Redmond told SM an improvement to the force’s health and safety record led to a £100,000 reduction in its insurance premium and added that further savings had come from buying high quality, but cheaper kit.

The fire service outsources 30 different services, including media and communications, payroll and equipment testing. The procurement function is in-house, but external consultants are used to buy specialist equipment.

Redmond is particularly proud of the service’s new headquarters, which were unveiled this month. Although costing £3 million, they were paid for by savings made in 2006-10. The HQ was an existing building owned by the organisation, which was recycled, refurbished and extended in size by 15 per cent to meet the service’s needs.

Last August, Shropshire signed an agreement with neighbouring Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service to use a shared command and control system to handle 999 calls, following the government’s decision not to go ahead with its regional FiRe Control Project.

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