Our vision is a Cheshire where there are no deaths, injuries or damage from fires or other emergencies.
To achieve this, we need a plan for addressing the ever-changing risks in our communities now and in the future. This strategy is called a Community Risk Management Plan (or CRMP, for short), which all fire and rescue authorities have to produce regularly.
Our next CRMP is due to be published in April 2024. It will set the blueprint for how our Service will develop, and continue to prevent and respond to emergencies, over the next four years.
Under the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, a CRMP should identify risks facing the community and describe how a fire and rescue authority will address those risks, and prevent and respond to fires and other emergencies. In short, it serves as our organisational plan for the future.
A CRMP should have a lifespan of at least three years and be produced in consultation with the public, fire and rescue staff, local partners and representative bodies.
As part of the proposal process we consulted as above so we could hear people's views on our draft plan. Full details on how people were able to do this can be found below.
The consultation for our draft community risk management plan has now closed.
The draft CRMP has been developed to identify the key fire and rescue related risks facing the community in Cheshire.
This document also sets out our plans to address and mitigate these risks.
To draw up our proposals for the CRMP, we have looked at a range of information about the incidents we attend, our changing population and the risks we face in the future. We have also listened carefully to the views of our staff and the public.
Our proposals will enable us to:
respond to incidents as quickly as we do now and, where possible, even quicker in the future
keep the same number of fire engines and fire stations
have more fire engines available, especially during the day
rely less on on-call (part-time) fire engines and increase the number of full-time fire engines
give our staff more time to keep our communities safe
strengthen our prevention and protection work
look after our people and avoid compulsory redundancies
be a safe, supportive and inclusive workplace
provide good, modern and sustainable buildings for our staff to work in
maintain the same costs and deliver value for money.
Overseeing much of our community work, this department delivers fire safety and health and wellbeing advice to households, road and water safety education, reduces deliberate fires, engages with schools and young people and manages our volunteers. The department also runs Safety Central, our interactive life skills education centre at Lymm.
In the next CRMP we want to:
reorganise the Prevention Department following a review this year of how its teams work
make sure we continue to carry out Safe and Well visits for people most at risk and improve the way partners refer vulnerable people for a visit
work with Cheshire Police to keep reducing arson
launch a new Road Safety Strategic Plan with our partners and do more road safety education
increase the number of Safe and Well visits by the end of this CRMP, from the current 20,000
increase our water safety education activity
improve the way we work with partners to safeguard and support people
train our Prevention team and firefighters to deliver safety messages more effectively
give safety advice about lithium-ion batteries when we engage with householders and communities.
This department ensures non-residential premises meet their duties around fire safety, engaging with businesses and where necessary enforcing legislation. Protection officers also work with local authorities and others on building regulations and the highest risk premises including industrial facilities, heritage sites and care settings.
In the next CRMP we want to:
review our Protection Department to ensure it remains efficient and effective
look at our inspection programme to ensure we visit the right premises
review how we work with organisations who formally partner with us to provide fire safety advice
ensure our activity supports the outcomes of the government’s Building Safety Review
put more fire officers through specialist protection training, enhancing firefighter safety and improving inspections of premises
continue to campaign for the installation of sprinklers
work with the fire and rescue service nationally to ensure planning authorities consider fire implications of new large-scale battery energy storage systems.
We want to improve the way we measure and report the time it takes our firefighters to get to incidents. This involves making some small but important changes that would enable us to better monitor the impact of the proposals set out on the following pages, all of which aim to improve our response times.
There is no national target for the time it should take a fire engine to get to an incident. Different fire and rescue services measure and report these times in different ways. In Cheshire, we currently meet our current ‘response standard’, agreed through previous risk management plans, which is to:
Respond to life-risk incidents within 10 minutes on 80% of occasions.
We are proposing to change this to a commitment that:
The average response time to primary fires in Cheshire will not exceed 10 minutes.
We would still aim to get the nearest fire engine to an incident within 10 minutes. However, behind the scenes there would be three changes to the way we measure and report our performance:
We want to start measuring our response time from the moment a 999 call is answered in our control room, not from the time the control operator alerts the fire station.
Instead of measuring the response times to life-risk incidents, we would measure the response times to fires involving homes, businesses and vehicles (known as ‘primary fires’).
We would report our average response time rather than the percentage of incidents we respond to in 10 minutes.
The time it takes the fire and rescue service to get to incidents has gradually increased over the past 10 years in England. The reasons are varied and include things like increased traffic on the roads and the fact that staff who answer emergency calls ask more questions of the caller to understand the risk. Compared with the 16 other English fire and rescue services categorised as ‘significantly rural’, like Cheshire, we have limited the increase in our response times. We have achieved this by spreading the cover of our fire engines around the county.
At the moment, we measure and report our response times differently to the way the Home Office collects and reports the performance of fire and rescue services. This actually masks the fact that our response times have increased. Our proposed changes would bring us in line with the Home Office’s very reliable approach, enabling us to benchmark our actual performance with similar-sized services, with similar risks. National performance data on response times is publicly available .
Starting the clock from the moment a 999 call is answered in our control room gives a truer picture of the caller’s experience than measuring it from the time the fire station is alerted. This was confirmed in feedback to our pre-consultation. It would also enable us to look at ways of speeding up call handling if necessary and the other steps in the process of deploying a fire engine including crew turnout and drive time.
Measuring response times to primary fires instead of life-risk incidents would not change the way we respond to incidents. However, by measuring response times to primary fires – those involving homes, businesses and vehicles – rather than just life-risk incidents, we will get a broader picture of the speed of our response, which we can benchmark against other fire and rescue services.
Finally, during our pre-consultation, the public and our staff told us that they would prefer us to report our response performance as an average time rather than percentage.
Runcorn, Winsford, Northwich and Macclesfield currently have two fire engines each. One is crewed by full-time firefighters and the other is crewed by on-call firefighters. We want to convert these on-call fire engines, so they are crewed by full-time firefighters during the day, Monday to Friday. The full-time fire engines at these stations would continue to operate as they do now, 24/7.
Because these fire engines would be crewed full-time, they would be guaranteed to be available on weekday daytimes. The on-call fire engines at these four fire stations have, on average, only been available for 18% of the time during the day.
The daytime weekday fire engines would be able to mobilise to incidents three and a half minutes faster than an on-call fire engine and help improve response times during our busiest periods. Importantly, the full-time crews would also deliver additional community work and prevention and protection activities, focusing on the people who are most at risk.
The four full-time weekday daytime fire engines would operate in defined areas, set out on the following pages, but also move around, as needed, to benefit the whole of Cheshire. They would not replace the on-call fire engines at other fire stations across Cheshire; they would be in addition to them, therefore adding greater resilience and capacity.
On average the on-call fire engines at Runcorn, Winsford, Northwich and Macclesfield were available for less than 18% of the time during weekdays and 33% overall during 2022/23.
By converting these on-call fire engines to full-time crewing, they will be guaranteed to be available on all weekday daytimes and would be used in areas where they are needed most, helping improve resilience, response times and delivery of community work and prevention and protection activities.
a) Increase of 20 full-time firefighter posts.
b) Reduction of 55 on-call (part-time) firefighter posts at these four fire stations. Of these, 22 posts are vacant, 17 people are already full-time firefighters, which leaves 16 people remaining. They would be supported and offered suitable employment with us. We will also work closely with our trade unions to minimise the impact of the changes on all staff affected.
c) No change to the number of fire engines across Cheshire, which would remain at 35.
d) More fire engines guaranteed to be available during the daytime on weekdays, increasing from 17 to 21, resulting in improved resilience and faster response.
e) Runcorn, Winsford, Northwich and Macclesfield would no longer have an on-call fire engine, but there would be no change to the number of fire engines guaranteed to be available.
f) Possible reduction in callouts for on-call crews available in areas where the weekday daytime fire engines operate. If the on-call fire engines are available, we will aim to use the weekday daytime fire engines elsewhere to improve resilience and response. We will also invest in the on-call duty system to improve rewards, increase on-call availability and utilisation of all on-call fire engines – see Proposal 5.
g) Faster response times and increase in community work and risk-reducing prevention and protection activities, focused on the people most at risk.
We are proposing to convert Runcorn’s on-call fire engine to a weekday daytime fire engine, which would primarily provide flexible cover across the Frodsham and Tarporley areas.
We are proposing this change because the availability of the on-call fire engine at Runcorn in the day was on average 23% in 2022/23. In the first five months of 2023/24, it has averaged just 18%.
At Frodsham, daytime availability averaged 13% and at Tarporley the on-call fire engine was available 27% of the time during the day.
Because there is already a full-time fire engine at Runcorn, there would be no change to the level of guaranteed fire cover in Runcorn and introducing the proposal would provide guaranteed cover available across Frodsham and Tarporley during weekday daytimes. If both fire engines at Frodsham and Tarporley were available to respond then we would use the weekday daytime fire engine in Runcorn or elsewhere in Cheshire.
We are proposing to convert Winsford’s on-call fire engine to a weekday daytime fire engine, which would primarily provide flexible cover across Middlewich, Sandbach, Holmes Chapel and Alsager.
We are proposing this change because the availability of the on-call fire engine at Winsford in the day was on average 14% in 2022/23. In the first five months of this year, it has averaged 9%. At Middlewich, daytime availability averaged 64%, at Sandbach 44% and at Alsager it averaged 57%. At Holmes Chapel the on-call fire engine was available during the daytime only 16% of the time.
Because there is already a wholetime fire engine at Winsford, there would be no change to the level of guaranteed fire cover in Winsford. The proposal would provide guaranteed cover across the Middlewich, Sandbach, Holmes Chapel or Alsager areas during weekday daytimes. If one or more of these stations were available to respond then the resource would operate in one of the other areas in order to best maintain fire cover. As with the previous proposal, if fire engines at all four stations were available to respond then we would use the weekday daytime fire engine flexibly in Winsford or elsewhere in Cheshire to improve capacity.
We are proposing to convert Macclesfield’s on-call fire engine to a weekday daytime fire engine, which would primarily provide flexible cover across Poynton and Bollington.
We are proposing this change because the availability of the on-call fire engine at Macclesfield in the day was on average 24% in 2022/23. In the first five months of 2023/24, it has averaged just 6%. This does not include the on-call cover provided by crews at night. At Bollington, daytime availability averaged 76% and at Poynton this figure was 32%.
Because there is already a full-time fire engine at Macclesfield during the day, there would be no change to the level of guaranteed fire cover in Macclesfield. The proposal would provide guaranteed cover in Poynton and Bollington during weekday daytimes. If one of these stations were available to respond then the weekday daytime fire engine would operate in the other areas in order to best maintain fire cover. If fire engines at both stations were available to respond then we would use the weekday daytime fire engine flexibly elsewhere in Cheshire – in Macclesfield if required.
We are proposing to convert Northwich’s on-call fire engine to a weekday daytime fire engine, which would primarily provide flexible cover across Nantwich, Audlem and Malpas.
We are proposing this change because the availability of the on-call fire engine at Northwich in the day was on average 10% in 2022/23. In the first five months of 2023/24, it has averaged just 1%. At Nantwich, daytime availability averaged 64%, at Audlem it averaged 47% and at Malpas it was 13%.
Because there is already a full-time fire engine at Northwich, there would be no change to the level of guaranteed fire cover in the town. The proposal would provide a guaranteed fire engine available across Nantwich, Audlem or Malpas during weekday daytimes. If one of these stations is available to respond then it would operate across the other areas in order to best maintain fire cover. If fire engines at all three stations are available to respond then we would use the weekday daytime fire engine elsewhere in Cheshire as needed.
Note: we use all fire engines across all areas of Cheshire as required to meet risks and demands
We want to improve response times and carry out more community work in and around Knutsford by reintroducing the day crewing duty system at the town’s fire station. This would provide guaranteed availability of the fire engine 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Full-time firefighters would crew the fire engine from 9am to 7pm on weekdays. At all other times the fire engine would be crewed as if it were still on-call. However, this on-call cover would be guaranteed because it would be provided by the full-time firefighters who do so as part of their contract. The full-time firefighters would live in the houses we own next to the fire station and would receive an additional allowance for providing the guaranteed on-call cover.
Currently the fire engine at Knutsford is crewed on-call and is therefore crewed by part-time firefighters who live or work within five minutes of the fire station and respond by pager when on call. The fire engine’s availability varies throughout the week and in 2022/23 it was available during the daytime for 38% of the time and 49% overall.
Day crewing already operates successfully at four fire stations across Cheshire and operated at Knutsford until 2017. Until then the fire station was also the base for our technical rescue unit, specialising in rescues from height and confined space. We propose to return that capability to Knutsford through this change.
When the fire engine is crewed full-time it would be on average three and a half minutes faster than an on-call fire engine, helping to improve response times during daytimes, Monday to Friday. Importantly, the full-time crew would also deliver additional prevention and protection activities focusing on the people in local communities who are most at risk.
a) No change to the number of fire engines across Cheshire, which would remain at 35.
b) More fire engines guaranteed to be available during weekday daytimes, from 17 to 22 resulting in improved resilience, when combined with Proposal 2.
c) Faster response times.
d) More community work and prevention and protection activities in Knutsford.
e) The technical rescue unit would move from Lymm to Knutsford.
f) Increase of nine full-time firefighter posts at Knutsford.
g) Reduction of eight full-time firefighter posts elsewhere in Cheshire.
h) Fifteen on-call (part-time) firefighter posts would be removed from Knutsford. Only 12 of these posts are filled currently. Of these, nine are filled by people who are full-time firefighters. The remaining three on-call firefighters would be supported and offered suitable alternative employment with us. Firefighters currently renting the houses we own next to the station would move out if they were not appointed into the new roles. We will work closely with our trade unions to minimise the impact of the changes on all staff affected by this change.
We want to improve the spread of daytime fire cover and prevention and protection activity across Birchwood and Stockton Heath, two of our five fire stations in the borough of Warrington. This would mean changes to the way we operate both these fire stations.
This is currently a nucleus fire station, which means it is crewed by full-time firefighters between 7am and 7pm every day and at night by on-call firefighters who live or work within five minutes of the fire station and respond by pager when on-call.
We propose to crew the Birchwood fire engine with full-time firefighters between 7am and 7pm on 50% of days (four days in eight), then by on-call firefighters on the other 50% of days. There would be no change to the on-call cover overnight between 7pm and 7am.
This is currently an on-call fire station, which means the fire engine is crewed solely by on-call firefighters who live or work within five minutes of the fire station and respond by pager when on-call.
We propose to crew the Stockton Heath fire engine with full-time firefighters between 7am and 7pm on 50% of days (four days in eight). Outside of these times there would be no on-call cover in Stockton Heath. Instead, neighbouring fire stations such as Warrington and Lymm would respond to incidents within 10 minutes. This happens now when Stockton Heath’s on-call fire engine is not available.
This proposal would balance fire cover and ensure that response times in Stockton Heath and Birchwood would still be within 10 minutes on average.
The outputs of community work and risk-reducing prevention and protection activities would remain the same in Warrington borough but would be shared more evenly across Stockton Heath and Birchwood.
During 2022/23, Stockton Heath’s on-call fire engine was available only 10% in the day and 67% at night. This has worsened to 4% in the day and 62% at night in the first five months of 2023/24. Replacing this on-call cover with full-time cover on 50% of days will be, on balance, more effective.
Ending the on-call cover at Stockton Heath means that we can sell the nine houses we own near to the fire station and use the proceeds to fund our capital programme including replacing the fire station in Warrington town centre.
a) No change to the number of full-time fire engines during the day in Warrington borough, which would remain at four.
b) Average response times in Stockton Heath may be up to one minute faster. Average response times in Birchwood may be up to one minute slower. Average response times in both areas would still be within 10 minutes.
c) No change to community work and prevention and protection activities in Warrington borough, but activity would be spread more evenly across Birchwood and Stockton Heath.
d) Six of the 12 full-time firefighter posts at Birchwood would move to Stockton Heath.
e) No change to the number of on-call firefighter posts at Birchwood and the on-call crew would be able to cover on 50% of days instead of nights only.
f) Fifteen on-call firefighter posts would be removed from Stockton Heath. Only 10 of these posts are filled currently. Of these, five are filled by people who are full-time firefighters. The remaining five on-call firefighters would be offered suitable alternative employment with us. In addition, those on-call firefighters currently renting the houses we own near to the fire station would move out. We would work closely with our trade unions to support staff and minimise the impact of the changes.
g) When the full-time fire engine is not available at Stockton Heath there would be no on-call cover. Cover will be provided by Warrington and Lymm within 10 minutes.
h) We would sell Authority houses at Stockton Heath to help fund our capital programme.
On-call firefighters live or work within five minutes of the fire station and are alerted by pager to respond to incidents.
They undertake their role as a part-time job, often in addition to demanding full-time employment and busy lives outside work. They are highly committed and work extremely hard to maintain the availability of the fire engine so they can respond to emergency incidents and support their communities.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the overall availability of on-call fire engines has declined; in some areas, quite significantly, especially during the day when we tend to be busiest. The decline in on-call availability is a major challenge across the country, not just in Cheshire.
Despite the best efforts of our on-call firefighters and major investment in the duty system, it has not been possible to reverse this decline.
* Data from 2020/21 has been excluded owing to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on on-call availability and expenditure
Proposal 2 would increase the number of fire engines guaranteed to be available on a weekday across Cheshire, but it would not provide additional fire engines overnight or at the weekend. Full-time crewing is expensive and cannot be justified for fire engines that respond to low numbers of incidents, so we need to get the balance right. Therefore, we would still depend heavily on on-call firefighters. If the proposals are taken forward, they would continue to crew 12 of our 35 fire engines.
We want to reaffirm our commitment to the on-call duty system and our on-call firefighters. As a priority, we would undertake a review and take forward some of the learning from previous initiatives. Our aim would be to improve the pay and reward for on-call firefighters. We would also seek to strengthen the duty system to make it more effective, more rewarding for staff and more sustainable. On-call staff and the trade unions that represent them would help to shape our efforts and be involved at every stage.
Over recent months the Service has hosted a number of public roadshows across the county.
10:30am - 11:30am
Poynton Library, Park Lane, Poynton SK12 1RB
10:30am - 11:30am
Stockton Heath Library, Alexandra Road, Stockton Heath WA4 2AN
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Tesco Helsby, Chester Rd, Helsby WA6 0DJ
11:00am - 1:00pm
Asda Crewe, Victoria Centre, Crewe CW1 2PT
11:00am - 1:00pm
Asda Widnes, Widnes Road, Widnes WA8 6AH
Our consultation was open from Monday 2 October 2023 to Tuesday 2 January 2024.
After our consultation, members of Cheshire Fire Authority will look at a report summarising all the feedback at their meeting on 14 February 2024. Here, they will take the feedback into account as they consider and agree the final CRMP for 2024-28. Subject to their approval, the CRMP will then take effect from 1 April 2024.