OBJECTORS have six weeks to register their views over controversial plans to change night-time cover at Bromsgrove Fire Station.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) has this week begun a consultation about duty systems at Bromsgrove, Worcester and Hereford Fire Stations.

The Advertiser last month revealed the service's plans to introduce 'on-call' manning to the fire station for night shifts.

The proposals would mean firefighters are based at home during nights but have to race to the station to clamber aboard a fire engine when an emergency alert is paged to them.

HWFRS says it has been forced into the move by a high court ruling.

The six-week process will consult with public and staff about the proposed changes to the Day Crewing Plus (DCP) duty system, as agreed by the Fire Authority.

A HWFRS statement said: "The consultation will seek views on the options to replace DCP because of a recent court ruling that makes it open to legal challenge.

"Since 2014, DCP has enabled HWFRS to maintain a 24/7 immediate response capability for the first fire engine at Bromsgrove Fire Station and the second fire engines at Worcester and Hereford Fire Stations.

"Using DCP instead of the traditional shift system to provide 24/7 response cover has enhanced DCP firefighters’ pay by 25%, and saved £1.5 million per year from the HWFRS budget.

"However, a recent high court ruling on a similar duty system elsewhere in England has ruled that DCP breaches Working Time Regulations and so can only remain in use if the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) grants a local agreement to keep it in place.

"The FBU has made it clear that it is not willing to enter into such an agreement.

"The consultation includes the publication of a document setting out the issue, together with proposed options on a way forward.

"The public and other interested parties are invited to respond to a questionnaire available on the HWFRS website via http://www.hwfire.org.uk/your-right-to-know/consultation/

"Local focus groups run by an independent organisation and made up of participants chosen from a representative cross-section of the affected local communities will provide comment and feedback on the proposals.

"The Service will analyse the responses and present its response and recommendations to the Fire Authority towards the end of the summer for a final decision.

"The Service remains committed to providing the right standard of response across both Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and constantly monitors the efficiency and effectiveness of the level of service provided."