IFEmembers of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service hosted a seminar in response to extensive interest in their Day Crewing Plus (DCP) system. DCP is now operating successfully in two fire stations in Lancashire, with four more at Rawtenstall, Fleetwood, Bispham, and Darwen all currently programmed to see the introduction of the flexible crewing arrangement. 

     

Under the system, the stations have an emergency response staffing of one watch manager, two crew managers and eleven firefighters. This equates to a 50 per cent reduction in the number of operational staff at the station, but with no reduction in the emergency cover provided, or indeed, increases in turnout or attendance times.  Crewswork on average 42 hours per week on duty, as they have always done and another 42 'standby' hours during the night, where they respond from purpose-built accommodation within the station grounds, or their home address if they can meet the current response times. 

 

Offering firefighters flexibility in working hours and patterns; the system enables staff to choose working hours to fit in with their own needs or family requirements, provided the required number of hours are worked and the fire engine is crewed with 5 staff at all times. The salary of staff who work the Day Crewing Plus system is significantly enhanced to reflect the increased commitment, yet still offering a saving to the council tax payer of around £400,000 per fire engine, which is equivalent to a 38 per cent reduction in the pay bill prior to introducing the system at each station. 

     

Delegates were welcomed to the seminar by Dr Lee Chatfield, Head of Forensic and Investigative Science at the University of Central Lancashire. The opening address was given by Chief Fire Officer Peter Holland: "The benefits of Day Crewing Plus are significant and sustainable, offering reduced staffing costs year-on-year, whilst having a beneficial impact on keeping council tax bills as low as possible. There has also been absolutely no reduction in the service provided to the public, and response times since the introduction of the system have remained excellent." 

     

At the core of the crewing system are the firefighters themselves and their support is crucial. A keynote speaker therefore was Watch Manager Steve Chappell from St Annes Fire Station, who presented his 'Practitioner's Perspective', giving a positive but no-holds-barred account of the impact Day Crewing Plus has had on firefighters and their families.   

      

The event was organised and chaired by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Steve Kennedy, who on taking over as lead officer for Day Crewing Plus, decided the seminar would be a proactive way to deal with the many enquiries he was receiving about the scheme. In his presentation, Steve gave an overview of Day Crewing Plus, under headings of DCP 'day to day', 'lessons learned', 'positives', 'negatives', 'why is it successful', 'DCP staff questionnaire' and 'the future'. 

 

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Paul Richardson spoke of the background to the implementation of Day Crewing Plus, focusing on the emergency risk criteria specific to the fire station areas, which influenced their selection for Day Crewing Plus, and gave insights into resource issues and how staff, union and the public were consulted and involved in the planning and implementation of the scheme. 

Group Manager Phil Cox was lead officer for Day Crewing Plus during the implementation phase, which of course was the topic of his presentation. Alison Kitching, Project Management Advisor for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, explained the importance of Project Management in ensuring that Day Crewing Plus was successfully introduced in Lancashire. 

Given the fact that the number of applicants from firefighters wanting to work Day Crewing Plus exceeded the number of vacancies available, Gill Irving, Human Resources Manager for Recruitment and Equality, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, talked about the selection process. 

 

With the presentations over and following a lunch and refreshments break, delegates expressing an interest in visiting a Day Crewing Plus station were taken to St Annes Fire Station. Here delegates were hugely impressed by the standard of accommodation provided and had the opportunity to put questions to staff on duty about issues such as: 

     

  • How the system actually works in practice 
  • Whether spending time in the accommodation with staff on 'standby' is an opportunity taken up by their families 
  • The phenomenon of crew members being together for longer periods 
  • Do crews use the kitchen facilities for cooking, or just to dine in on takeaway meals? 
  • How crews maintain competence as teams, given the fact that flexible rostering is an inherent part of Day Crewing Plus and the constituent members of watches change on a regular basis. 

     

Contact for more information about Day Crewing Plus:stephenkennedy@lancsfirerescue.org.ukTel. 01772 866902, Mob. 07810 504359 

 

Date posted: 25.01.11