PLANS to increase the number of firefighters and fire engines across Merseyside have been approved.

The measures were among proposals put forward by Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan after a 12-week public consultation.

They were unanimously backed by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority today.

Mr Garrigan said the plans' approval heralds 'a new period of optimism' for the service after a lengthy period of Government funding cuts, which resulted in the loss of fire stations, fire engines and firefighters.

It comes on the back of superb results in an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services released last month.

The measures will now be incorporated into the Authority's Integrated Risk Management Plan.

Included are an increase in the number of available fire appliances from 26 to 30 and firefighters from 620 to 642.

There will also be a rise in the number of staff in fire safety protection roles to help make commercial and public buildings safer.

The service’s ability to respond to terrorist threats and environmental changes will also be enhanced.

Chief fire officer Phil Garrigan said: "I would like to thank authority members for their support, these proposals will now form the solid bedrock on which the Service will build its future.


"We will no doubt face further financial challenges but the approval of these plans strengthens our vision of being the best Fire & Rescue Service in the country.

"We can now move forward in the knowledge that the Service will be better equipped, more resilient with more resources to protect the communities of Merseyside.

"I am grateful for the overwhelming support of the public – they couldn’t have made their position any clearer."

Mr Garrigan said the plan's "heralds a new period of optimism for the service after a lengthy period of cuts resulting in the loss of fire stations, fire engines and firefighters".

The changes will be funded by a reinvestment in the frontline of around £1m through the use of current reserves combined with robust debt repayment plans.

CFO Garrigan said the increased investment will also ensure the service can protect business and public premises from fire, and prevention services will continue to be focused on the most vulnerable members of our community.

The plans also confirm a commitment to invest in the Service’s infrastructure and training facilities whilst maintaining Merseyside's world renowned prevention services, rated as 'Outstanding' in the inspection results released last month.

The 12- week consultation included an online questionnaire, public consultation forums, distribution of the plans to partner organisations, meetings with staff Representative Bodies and Principal Officer talks with staff.

Cllr. Les Byrom, Chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, said: "The Fire & Rescue Authority share the Chief Fire Officer's vision of a modern fire & rescue service which is equipped for any challenges we might face.

"The public have given the plans a ringing endorsement and we have taken their views and those of the representative bodies into account when making our decision.

"In the wake of the superb results of the HMICFRS inspection these proposals provide a roadmap of what can be achieved, showing how we will sustain this amazing fire and rescue service into the future whilst continuing to implement positive change for the good of communities across Merseyside.”