Pay increase of almost 30 per cent offered to firefighters on new shifts

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FIREFIGHTERS in South Yorkshire were yesterday offered a pay rise of nearly 30 per cent to work a new shift system which chief officers claim will still save millions of pounds.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue plans to introduce so-called Close Proximity Crewing (CPC) at up to six stations, as part of changes aimed at saving £10m.

Firefighters who volunteer for the switch, which involves crew members being on call while living at the station for up to four days a week, will receive a 29 per cent increase in their salary,

Fire chiefs said it provides the same level of emergency cover while making a saving of £375,000 a year per station, because fewer firefighters are needed.

Senior officers said similar systems are already in place in a number of other counties - including West Yorkshire.

Deputy chief fire officer Mark Shaw said: “We appreciate that this system of working isn’t for everyone, but for those who do volunteer there are significant benefits in pay and flexibility. The CPC introduction will help us save the necessary £10m by 2015 whilst maintaining exactly the same levels of emergency fire cover.”

Firefighters at CPC stations are provided with accommodation and recreational facilities, and are allowed visitors during “stand-down” time.

The first CPC station will be Lowedges, Sheffield, in 2013. A second station will switch to CPC in 2014, and then up to four others could move to the system as well as a new station at Birley.

The Fire Brigades Union has opposed the system and several other measures unveiled by the brigade in response to Westminster-imposed budget cuts.

Under the scheme four fire stations will close, five fire engines will be scrapped and 140 firefighters jobs will go. Nobody from the union was available for comment last night.