To protect our communities and respond to emergency calls we have 14 strategically positioned Fire Stations, an Emergency Communication Centre, Control Centre and a Training and Development Centre based at our Headquarters in Kempston, Bedford.
We have five wholetime stations, crewed 24 hours a day, at Bedford, Dunstable, Kempston, Luton and Stopsley. The fire stations at Bedford and Kempston are also supported by Retained Duty System (RDS) personnel. Leighton Buzzard is day crewed by wholetime staff during the daytime and reverts to a Retained Crewing System during the night. In addition, 8 stations at Ampthill, Biggleswade, Harrold, Potton, Sandy, Shefford, Toddington and Woburn are crewed by personnel on the Retained Duty System. Our firefighters regularly train, maintain and test equipment to ensure they always remain operationally ready to respond to emergencies.
Our modern and well maintained fleet includes 25 fire appliances, 22 specialist vehicles, 35 vans, 23 cars and 2 welfare units.
We work closely with our blue light partners, primarily through co-responding alongside EEAST Ambulance service continued with 88 incidents attended in 2022-23. Previous evaluations have shown the community benefit of co-responding both in terms of reducing response times and improving patient outcomes. A Falls Response Team pilot began in January 2020 with around eight incidents per month attended in 2020-21. The trial has been evaluated and has been successful in meeting its aims. We also hold capability for technical rescues assisting the ambulance service (including bariatric), with 79 incidents attended in 2022-23.
We have highly experienced Prevention and Protection teams based strategically in the north and south of the county at our Luton and Bedford community fire stations, and welcome the co-location of emergency partners at several of our sites also.
As outlined in our CRMP -Focus for 2023/24, the effects of high inflation and national pay awards is forecast to increase our costs this year by £1.891m. To ensure we are financially fit for the future and avoid drawing down on our capital reserves (our savings) which we would prefer to invest in providing new buildings, vehicles and equipment. This year we will establish a Productivity and Efficiency Board, chaired by the Assistant Chief Officer, with the aim of:
- setting out how we will deliver 2% of non-pay efficiencies and to increase productivity by 3% by the end of 2024/25
- identifying ways to ensure a balanced budget over the life of the current 4-year CRMP.
In addition to a range of objectives associated with our Prevention, Protection and Response commitments, we are also focussed on empowering and investing in our staff in order to retain the talented, motivated, diverse, and inclusive workforce we need to succeed.
Staff engagement based on 12 CRMP engagement workshops in October to November 2022, eight station visits by principal officers in 2022-23, five manager’s listening events, four staff engagement forums, and four chief officer listening events highlight the following proposals and issues that came directly from staff and including the need for:
- Maintaining focus on improving resource availability
- Culture change from task to people based culture
- Continuing the support to staff welfare and wellbeing issues including mental health support
- Evaluation and communicating the impact of prevention activity
- Improving ICT systems integration and face-to-face training
2022/23 saw a big increase in the number of emergency incidents we were called to, due in part to the busy summer of wildfires that were quickly followed by a spate of flooding incidents. We also responded to a number of major incidents, including the explosion in Redwood Grove in Bedford and the high rise fire in Green Court, Luton. Find out more about last year's events, statistics, projects and progress in our 2023/24 Annual Report.
Corporate Management Team
The Corporate Management Team is responsible for long-term leadership, forward planning and steering policy formulation.
The team is comprised of the Principal Officers, the Head of Prevention/Protection, the Head of Response, the Head of Human Resources, Head of ICT, Head of Training and Asset Management and Head of Strategic Support & Assurance.