‘Better fire cover times’

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FIRE Service cover in the borough is to be enhanced thanks to a new crewing model.

At last Tuesday’s Leisure and Environment meeting at Coleraine Borough Council, Graham Lowry from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Brian Stanfield of the Fire Brigade Union, briefed councillors on the proposed changes.

Current arrangements for fire cover in Coleraine sees five full time officers working from 11am to 11pm. The remainder of the time is covered by part time officers.

Under the new model this cover will change to 7.30am to 7.30pm with six full time officers on duty.

Graham Lowry from the NIFRS told the meeting that the new arrangements are to be put in place following research into call times. He added that different crew models had been examined and the new proposal will be more cost affective.

“The new cover will enhance fire fighter safety, community safety and part time availability, said Mr Lowry.

“After 7.30pm there is less traffic on the roads, therefore it will be easier for part time officers to get out to a call. This means quicker response times.

“The new arrangements will also give us more time to get out into schools and into the community,” said Mr Lowry.

Brian Stanfield described the changes as ‘a good news story’.

He said that Union members had been consulted on the changes and that they had been ‘well accepted’.

Councillors also welcomed the changes.

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick asked if a pilot study has been carried out in relation to the new cover changes.

Mr Lowry replied that call out data had been examined and would be reviewed after six months.

DUP Alderman James McClure paid tribute to the local fire crews saying: “They do a magnificent job and they are on-call all the time.”