New bold plans for the future of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Exciting plans to increase the number of fire engines and the development of a new state-of-the-art training school for Merseyside’s firefighters are one step closer to coming to fruition following the closure of a 12-week consultation.

Proposals contained within Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s (MFRS) draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2021-24 represent a continued optimism for the Service after a lengthy period of cuts which have resulted in the loss of fire stations, fire engines and firefighters.

But “enough is enough” for Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan, with his bold plans looking to build on the Service’s current IRMP and increase the number of fire engines for the second time in as many years.

A 12-week public consultation into the IRMP closed on Monday, with the plans now set to go to the Fire & Rescue Authority on 1 July for approval.

The plans include:

  • An increase of available fire engines from 29 (plus the Special Rescue Appliance) to 31 (plus the Special Rescue Appliance). This will be achieved through the expansion of the innovative hybrid duty system, a system first introduced by the Service in 2018 in order to protect night-time cover at Liverpool City and Wallasey Fire Stations.
  • The merger of the stations at Aintree and Croxteth to create a superstation along with a new Training and Development Academy to be built on land at Long Lane, Aintree. A separate full public consultation will take place on this proposal later this summer.
  • The combination of the duty systems at Liverpool City and Kensington fire stations to create a Dual Station Hybrid – including a specialist command and control function.
  • The introduction of a High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) appliance at St Helens to replace the complementary crewed combined platform ladder. This type of appliance would allow us to fight all normal fires, but can also be used as a water tower and has a lance that can be used to pierce roof spaces or light industrial buildings. The introduction of our drone (aerial) capability after being agreed in our previous IRMP. This capability will be managed by the Protection team and will also be used day to day to support their work auditing high-risk premises.

The proposals will also see MFRS’ specialist appliances move to create specialist capability fire stations. The appliances will be based in locations where there is more likelihood of a particular type of risk occurring. As well as the appliances being based at these locations, the firefighters working there will have extra training to give them a higher level of knowledge about these risks and how to deal with them.

MFRS want to create specialist fire stations at:

  • Liverpool City – Command and Control
  • Wallasey – Marine and Ships Firefighting
  • St Helens – Hazmat (Hazardous Materials)
  • Proposed Long Lane Site – Urban Search & Rescue
  • Belle Vale – High Volume Pump
  • Kirkdale – Terrorist and Flood Response
  • Heswall & Formby – Wildfire

The proposal to introduce specialist teams will have an initial impact on the time taken to train our firefighters so it is also proposed to create a temporary capability (a 32nd fire engine) during 2021 aligned to the Comprehensive Spending Review to ensure there are no negative impacts on our emergency response due to specialist training.

Speaking about his plans, Chief Garrigan said, “After years of relentless cutbacks which have forced us to reduce firefighter numbers and close fire stations, enough is enough – Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service deserves the investment and resources that reflect the risks we face and the commitment and professionalism of our operational and support staff.

“I have made no secret of my vision for our Fire and Rescue Service – I firmly believe we are the best Fire and Rescue Service in the country with the very best most compassionate people at our core. I genuinely believe these plans make us better again, they make us more resilient, more effective and quicker to respond, whilst ensuring we are equipped to meet the demands placed on a modern-day fire and rescue service.

“We have already increased the number of fire engines from 26 to 29 and it is only right that we continue to increase this further wherever possible. Whilst we are not in a position to increase firefighter numbers as part of this plan, we will continue to recruit and train the very best people who represent the diverse communities we serve. We will continue to invest in our Prevention and Protection departments to increase fire safety in both the home and businesses, particularly for those living or working in high rise buildings.”

Chief Garrigan added, “I would like to thank all of those who have taken the time to read our proposals and had their say during our 12-week consultation. I now look forward to taking these plans forward for formal approval by the Fire and Rescue Authority on 1 July 2021.

“The approval of these plans would, in my view, ensure that the Service is better equipped to protect the public of Merseyside now and in the future.”

Image courtesy of MFRS: MFRS Firefighters at Worcester Road, Bidston in April 2021.

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