Fire service makes extra £100,000 savings

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has made a further £100,000 savings in reduced insurance costs because of its excellent safety record and good management practices, it has been revealed.

The cost of public liability and employers’ liability insurance on top of insuring fire appliances and vehicles for the Shropshire brigade’s 23 fire stations was slashed when the original five year contract came up for renewal.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond today welcomed the additional savings “due to staff diligence” which come as costs continue to be cut at the brigade in readiness for this month’s critical spending review.

A history of low claims, robust risk assessment and management practices along with an excellent health and safety record, were the reasons behind the insurance premium cut, said Corporate Services Manager Sharon Lloyd.

“They were very complimentary about our risk management and keeping our claims low and in addition to achieving savings we also obtained enhanced cover from previous years.”

More competition in the insurance industry also led to the price reduction with the brigade able to choose from eight tenders for the contract which went out across the EU in line with public service contracts.

The brigade, which serves a mainly rural population approaching 500,000, also contributed by tightening up its risk management and health and safety practices to make the workforce even more aware about how to avoid accidents.

“We haven't had many accidents, but when they did happen, we ensured that we investigated them thoroughly and took steps to stop them happening again. This involved either changing working practices or providing enhanced staff training,” said Mrs Lloyd.

“We were surprised when the quotes came in and were very pleased to see that we had made such a saving mainly due to a well organised and highly trained workforce contributing to an excellent safety record.

The reduced £254,000 insurance bill also includes a five per cent premium tax of £12,700 which goes to central Government.

A forecast £3 million cut in their £22 million budget over the next four years has led to a pay freeze and recruitment halt. Spending guidelines were tightened even more at the beginning of the year for 550 firefighters and 50 back up staff who work to provide fire and rescue cover throughout the county.

A total of 60 staff due to leave over the next four years will not be replaced with fire prevention work expected to take the brunt of the cuts.

Shropshire has one of the smallest and most poorly funded fire and rescue services in the UK but with a record for being one of the best performing brigades.

The Shropshire service receives £17 per head of population for its fire service compared with £30 in the West Midlands.

11th October, 2010