GMFRS Fire Cover Review

New investment announced for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service key priorities

  • Fire Cover Review consultation decision – new appliances and investment in prevention and protection; 24/7 crewing to continue at Sale and Offerton
  • £3.5m investment for new 12 fire engines
  • First time in 15 years GMFRS has increased the fire engine fleet – first in the country to do so

New investment has been announced for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) key priorities. This follows the outcome of a public consultation on a range of proposals for how the service can use its funding most effectively, as well as £3.5 million investment in replacing 12 fire engines with brand new greener and state-of-the-art models.

At a meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority Leaders today, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and Chief Fire Officer, Dave Russel confirmed the outcome of the Fire Cover and Special Appliances Reviews that GMFRS will:

  • Introduce one additional wholetime fire engine at Manchester Central fire station taking the total fleet from 50 to 51 pumps making it the first time in 15 years we have increased the number of fire engines and we believe we are the only fire service in the country to do so.
  • Invest an additional £340k in prevention and protection activities, targeting more resources to keeping people safe from emergencies before they happen.
  • Implement Enhanced Rescue Station proposals at Leigh and Ashton fire stations, strengthening the Service’s ability to respond to increasing numbers of complex emergencies such as from water and high buildings.
  • Implement new technologies and ensure specialist technical equipment is best located for where it is most needed across the city-region.
  • Crews will continue to be based on station 24/7 at Sale and Offerton fire stations, and day crewing arrangements will not be progressed at those stations.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) expects all services to use their resources in a way that maximises public value and configure these resources against risks. GMFRS carrying out a Fire Cover Review every four years is their way of reassuring themselves that they are meeting this expectation and providing best value for money for the public. It is used to deliver a stronger and more resilient service and it employs a wide range of available data and information on population changes, demand and risk, accompanied by insight from service staff, residents and partners.

The 2023 Fire Cover Review, accompanied by a Strategic Review of Special Appliances, included proposals around crewing models at two fire stations – Offerton in Stockport and Sale in Trafford; Enhanced Rescue Stations in two locations – Ashton and Leigh; an increase in the number of fire engines in Manchester in response to significant increase in the city centre; and other additions and changes to the frontline fleet. 

GMFRS undertook an extensive public consultation process to hear the views of residents and they also engaged with staff across the Service. An 11-week period of internal and external engagement and consultation took place over the summer and the public consultation received 830 responses. Opportunities were also provided for people to respond in-person at public events which were held in the areas most directly covered by the proposals – Offerton, Sale and Partington – with 180 people attending.

The consultation and engagement process found that there were concerns about the potential impacts of introducing day-crewing in Offerton and Sale despite it working well in other areas of Greater Manchester. Having listened to these concerns, the decision was taken to not go ahead with these specific proposals.

As a result of not going ahead with the proposal on day crewing and total cost savings being reduced, a wholetime fire engine at Moss Side fire station will not be introduced as originally consulted on. However, GMFRS is able to introduce an extra fire engine into Manchester which means they appear to be the only fire and rescue service in the country to be increasing their operational fleet at this time. GMFRS remains committed to introducing a second engine funded through other means when possible.

The changes will also provide £340,000 of further savings that will be reinvested into prevention and protection services, increasing GMFRS’s resilience in preventing emergencies, which is safer and more effective than responding to one after it has occurred.

In addition to the investment from the Fire Cover and Special Appliances Reviews, £3.5 million is being invested in replacing 12 fire engines with new, greener and digitally innovative models, which means more than 75 percent of the total fleet will be less than five years old. From this week, the new engines are being rolled out at: Agecroft, Altrincham, Ashton, Bolton North, Bury, Cheadle, Hollins, Leigh, Marple, Offerton, Stalybridge and Withington Community Fire Stations.

The new fire engines have 5G connectivity on-board for the recently upgraded award-winning mobile data terminals (MDTs) that crews use to access information to respond safely. This will enable greater functionality and use of the IT equipment fitted on each vehicle and will allow more accurate and real-time data and information to be provided.

The new engines are compliant with the latest Euro Six regulation – the European standard for emissions and safety standards on commercial vehicles.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I want to thank everyone who took part in the extensive consultation and engagement exercise. My priority has always been to keep residents of Greater Manchester safe, and it is right that we regularly review GMFRS fire cover and appliances to make sure they meet risk, demand and population changes, and ensure we continue to have a strong and resilient service.

“This was always a genuine consultation process and we have listened and reflected on all the views expressed. Although we have had to adjust our proposals, I’m pleased that residents across Greater Manchester will see improvements with new greener fire engines, an overall increase in our fire engine fleet for the first time in 15 years, more investment in protection and prevention and investment in specialist appliances. Every single borough in our city-region will be better off with the new investment in our fire and rescue service key priorities.”

GMFRS Chief Fire Officer, Dave Russel, said: “I would also like to thank the public and colleagues in GMFRS for taking the time to tell us what they thought about our proposals. I made it clear from the outset when I took on the role as Chief Fire Officer that I want to be open and transparent and truly listen to people’s views to help me lead a service everyone can be proud of. I believe that the outcomes of the Fire Cover Review demonstrate that we are stronger for combining professional judgement with the lived experience of our residents and frontline staff.

“We will be delivering the majority of our proposals and we have addressed the specific concerns raised by some of our communities. The Service will in the future be even stronger and more resilient in the delivery of our prevention, protection and response services as a result of this Fire Cover Review and our culture of listening, which this process has reaffirmed.”

Deputy Mayor for Police, Crime, Fire and Criminal Justice, Kate Green, added: “Residents in Greater Manchester are going to be seeing an enhanced service from GMFRS as a direct result of our Fire Cover Review, from new engines and equipment to prioritising preventing incidents from occurring in the first place. What this process has shown is that by working together with our residents we can keep them safe and our service strong.”

29/09/2023 11:57 AM