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Fire and Rescue Service changing response to non-statutory services


North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is introducing a change in the way it will respond to 999 calls in relation to non-statutory services involving large animal and rope rescues.

From 1st April 2015, the specialist response currently based in Colwyn Bay Fire Station will no longer assist in the recovery of large animals or in recoveries involving specialist rope rescues.

In December 2014, North Wales Fire Authority members voted to reduce these services to avoid having to make any reduction in core services.

The Chair of North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Meirick Davies, said: "It is undoubtedly a challenging time for all public services as we are faced by diminishing budgets - and it is important for the public to view recent decisions made by the Fire Authority in the context of these challenges.

"We are faced with a potential shortfall in the budget for the next five years in the region of up to £3.3 million, which could very well threaten our core fire and rescue services.

"At the Authority's December meeting, it was decided by members that we should aim to maintain the current level of service in the 2015-16 budget, with the help of a minimum increase in the contribution provided by local councils and by taking the decision to reduce some non-statutory services.

"This was not a decision that was taken lightly by members. However, some of these services which will no longer be provided are already duplicated by alternative providers with skills in this type of rescue work."

Officers at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are liaising with partner organisations to introduce these changes in April and to raise awareness amongst the public to minimise any confusion and risk.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith said: "Whilst regrettable, this change reflects the challenges we as a public service must face as we try to make the best case possible for our financial future. Cutting back on services which are attended by other agencies will help us maintain the current level of service and fulfil our duty to protect the public of North Wales, prevent against risk, and to respond as required to fires and road traffic incidents.

"In many respects the public will not notice a change - as we will still respond to incidents of this nature that do not necessitate a specialist response. Large animal rescues already

frequently necessitate attendance by a veterinary practitioner to provide advice on the animal wellbeing and are almost always attended by officers from the RSPCA. What will stop is our specialist response which often involves considerable travelling time over varying distances and which ties up our resources for lengthy periods, preventing us from attending life threatening fires or road traffic collisions."

"We would advise the public that from 1st April, the first point of call for anyone concerned about an animal should be their veterinary practitioner and the RSPCA, and in the event that they require rope rescue advice, they should seek assistance by reporting the incident to North Wales Police.

"But of course, the best course of action is always prevention - and we would encourage people to try to ensure they continue to take extra precautions to prevent requiring assistance in the first place, and that means for example taking steps to provide secure and well maintained enclosures and avoiding dangerous situations."

Further information, including answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

If you are unsure about these new arrangements and still have a query, please e-mail    

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