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Urban Retained

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"The fire chief said it might be possible for urban fire stations to adopt the "retained" model of on-call fire crews at certain times - and for rural stations to have some full-time staff to carry out "vital preventative" work."

So it looks as if the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service want to introduce the RDS system into city center fire stations during the night. Has any other met brigade considered this? There seems to be so many issues with recruitment of entire retained crews and the lack of experience that goes with them are there those numbers of willing people in urban environments? the volume of turnouts etc?

Any insight would be much appreciated

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Theres alot of considerations with regard to setting up a brand new rds unit, mainly the lack of experience. On the old forum there was a thread mentioning it, i think the timescale is around 2+ years but i’d double that where you get to a point where the unit can be left alone. Coupled with turn in times for urban areas due to traffic, local risk and and the disruption for firefighters personal live it can get more conplicated ( i.e. an RDS unit for example at Cowcaddens or Tollcross? Fergetaboutit, theres a very good reason those stations can be out the doors within 60 seconds at 3 in the morning )

Also the RDS model has alot of problems that would need to be addressed. Im RDS at a fairly busy station, we have 21 lads for two pumps, only 3 of them actually are allowed to respond from their workplace ( used to be four but i left my main job ) We are getting three new lads joining who will give day cover but due to experience and training, its looking like a minimum of 2 years before all three of them ( on paper ) could ride on the back on their own. Its not really acceptable but thats down to a whole ‘nother stack of issues

The only plus i can see is that there may be many willing candidates who have never been able to consider RDS due to home address. Wether they still retain the same enthusiam after their 7th AFA of the night would remain to be seen. 

Edited by Luminoki
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I'd wager they would really struggle to retain(ironic) staff, it just seems not at all practical, maybe in some of the bigger towns it would be possible? Where there isn't the volume of turnouts you get up the town but even then a lot of these places have enhanced skills and specialist appliances that require significant training and upkeep 

but by all accounts they seem to want retained firefighters in the city centre, whether it happens on the other hand...

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I believe Lancashire have not long set up an RDS unit at Lancaster station. I think it comes down to risks being downgraded, but i cant see Edinburgh city centre being less risk now than 10 years ago. Also the specials you might have to crew. My mates RDS at a station where the boat is crewed by WT. he asked about the feasilbilty of RDS crewing the boat, he was told that practically he would have to commit 1 weekend in four to train with it to keep up the competancy. In my service the only things the RDS cant crew is the boats, line rescue and USAR

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With all due respect to Lancaster, they have a population smaller than that of some of the outlying towns in Glasgow not to justify the reduction in fire cover but I'd say it was probably a damn sight easier there than it would be in a city centre.  The concern is if it happens here, Then potentially it'll be coming across the uk soon after. 

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It does work in certain places but like already said you need the interest. I used to be retained at a busy 2 pump retained station that also has the HVP and the mass decontam unit for the service. 28 lads to crew both pumps, HVP etc and medical car. Because it's a decent sized town and they get the shouts I have known it to be upwards of 50 a month sometimes so it keeps people interested. Perfect example of a retained model that works but it has been fully retained for over 20 years and obviously it doesn't mean it will work everywhere else. Some places simply would not meet the required response times if they went retained. And you've also got to think about affordable houses nearby, quality of potential recruits etc. I think the safest way to transition to completely retained from wholetime is to go day crewed first. Otherwise you are going to struggle to have an experienced crew for the first couple of years at least, unless existing firefighters live nearby and fancy taking it up of course. I also see no reason why the preventative work couldn't be carried out by the retained crews on a rota for example.

I do however think response times and the local community's needs/safety must come first, regardless of financial savings that could be made from making the change. Retained is an awkward and flawed system with regards to contracts and availabity and it's almost impossible to guaruntee 100% availability all of the time because of the contracts that the Firefighters are on. It would also be difficult to introduce contracts that could garuntee availability of pumps because of set shifts/days etc being required and the pay that would have to come with it.

Edited by JamesL
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The article also mentions about firefighters being 'in line' for a better pay rise if they were willing to redesign their roles. In line for a pay rise doesn't mean we will get a pay rise. Why should we allow the role to be redesigned unless it automatically comes with a salary that would reflect the additional responsibilities.

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Sorry am I being thick?

SFRS are having trouble attracting retained staff. Answer - close stations and recruit more retained

Why do they think it will be easier to keep rationed staff in urban areas? Employers will still have the same issues releasing them and probably more often 

Nah, don't get it!

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I don't understand why this is looked to as cost cutting measure by the brigades who have first hand knowledge of trying to recruit retained firefighters and keep them on the run. Cognitive dissonance maybe?

I love being retained and it still keeps much of the country's fire cover afloat but you cannot ignore the fact it is a world war 2 vintage system. The lifestyles and types of employment that people had that made the system work has all but disappeared.

We had a good go in Kent at changing the system to one of guaranteed hours, no booking off, and more salary based pay. While the bugs from it's first implementation have mostly been sorted it's still the above reasons that keeps pumps off the run during the day mostly.

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Or the second appliance coming from a neighboring station. If this is a cost cutting exercise where quiet WT appliances will be made RDS, I would rather have that than no second appliance at all.

We have a number of day crewed stations and stations that are mixed WT and RDS. Some stations you are part of the WT day crew then must give a number of hours RDS cover at night. From what I gather some love it. 

RDS is an old system but it does work otherwise it would have been replaced years ago. Don't get me wrong I think it does need modernising but that isn't pay more for less hours. Trialed that here and the first thing that happened, people met their allotted hours/pay then booked off so the pumps went off the run. Previously on a PAYG system they would have stayed on call.

Here the WT have more hours on station but there are a number of stations doing more calls with a small number of RDS over a watch of WT. Our RDS are doing the same training courses and are expected to keep the same skill levels. To the point we can walk in a WT station for OT with the only issues (if at all) being from the attitudes of any firefighters that still think the RDS are a comedy act who don't know what they are doing.

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At the end of the day, its still full time commitment for part time pay with an ball and chain keeping you in distance of station, and they wonder why they struggle to recruit/keep staff.

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The problem with potential applicants is that they wont realise the level of commitment until it impacts on their life. You can bang on about it at the awareness evenings but you havent invested the time and money at that point. And having done a few recruitment evenings  for my unit, ive looked at some availability forms and had to say “sorry, we need more cover than that/we need the cover here/you’ll have to do your share of weekends” 

overnight cover when youre asleep is fine but when your mates call you at 6 on a friday asking if you want to go out and youre one if the 4 on, it can bug you. Even worse if youre on a quiet station and unlikely to go out the doors, we have one station like that, their turnover and retention is an eye opener ( theres other isues to that but im not going to bore you ).

Its happened to me and thousands all over, cinema tickets paid for, restaurant table booked, alerter goes off 10 minutes before booking off to a farm fire. Now my stations on 270 for the year so far, so imagine being rds at in inner city station and your staff turnover might be huge. A pro for a new sprog is that youre being kept busy at work, the con is that your personal life isnt

I think if a service is going to invest in setting up a unit that has the potential to be ridculously busy they may as well keep the status quo

Edited by Luminoki
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