South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service defended its decision to introduce Volvos for fire officers who have to attend emergency incidents using blue lights four years ago, stating the cars were “sourced at extremely competitive prices”.
Those vehicles are now passing their replacement date and the service is replacing them with Skodas of a similar specification, though the new cars will have four wheel drive, a decision justified by the heavy winter snowfalls experienced in the county, according to the brigade’s ruling South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
That organisation has been questioned by the public about why it was acquiring new cars for managers at a time when it was telling the public it needed to save money, but the authority argues that it is cheaper to provide its own cars than pay fire officers allowances and mileage payments to use their own.
In addition, the cars were provided as part of a collective agreement with fire officers who agreed to give up 13 ‘rota’ days a year, time when they would normally have been expected to be at home, and increasing the number of hours they are available for duty each week.
“The change to providing cars had therefore resulted in officers spending more time at work and giving up days off per year,” states an authority report.
A further advantage was reduced risk, which was “significantly reduced” as previously officers using their own cars for emergency calls meant “there was a considerable variation in the quality of vehicles owned and driven by officers to emergencies, and difficulty in providing appropriate training for driving under blue light conditions.
“Having its own fleet enables the service to provide standard training for responding to emergencies,” states the report.