A MOVE to convert a fire station into an on-call station has been criticised by a concerned councillor.

Dovercourt Fire Station became an on-call only station on Wedneday, April 1, which means firefighters will respond from home during evenings and weekends.

The move comes after the station recruited 15 on-call firefighters, who will be supporting three existing full-time colleagues in management roles, and two further staff members will provide appliance driver support.

The full-time firefighters will remain at the station to support the final part of the transition until the end of July, when they will be redeployed elsewhere in Essex.

Station manager Scott Meekings said: “We’ve seen some really successful recruitment campaigns recently, which have resulted in more on-call firefighters joining our station.

“This success wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our local community - they are the ones who have stepped forward to apply to become on-call firefighters and play a part in protecting the local area.

“The additional support from our existing personnel will also ensure we will maintain the same level of protection for the Dovercourt and Harwich area."

However, Harwich county councillor, Ivan Henderson said he is making strong calls to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex, Roger Hirst to reconsider his decision.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: RESPONSIBLE: Roger Hirst is the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for EssexRESPONSIBLE: Roger Hirst is the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex

He said: "We were given assurances by PFCC nothing would happen until the appropriate level of support was there from on-call firefighters.

"I’d be holding Roger Hirst to his word and if numbers are not up to the level they are needed for the on-call firefighters, then I'd ask him to suspend his decision.

"I’d expect him to suspend any movement until the service can run safely for the benefit of the firefighters and the community.

"If we look at the present situation and the crisis we are in, we need support from all emergency crews including full-time firefighters.

"This time it’s not the right time to withdraw any full-time firefighters, if anything he should review the whole plan for 2020 and if need be maintain the full-time crews in Harwich."

He added: "Everyone is saying we need to reflect on emergency services as they had been hit by austerity and I don’t think it’s a good time to do this.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: CONCERNED COUNCILLOR: Ivan Henderson is making strong calls to suspend decisionCONCERNED COUNCILLOR: Ivan Henderson is making strong calls to suspend decision

"I'd ask him to stop, reflect and look what’s needed for the future.

"If we look at the present situation and the crisis we are in, we need support from all emergency crews including full-time firefighters.

Before Dovercourt Fire Station became an on-call station it had nine firefighters, split between two watches, who alternated between providing cover from the station during the day and from home at night.

Both of these watches were each supported by a firefighter who provided solely day cover.

About 75 per cent of fire stations in Essex are crewed by on-call firefighters consisting of people who live or work within five minutes of the fire station.

Anyone interested in becoming an on-call firefighter should visit join.essex-fire.gov.uk/on-call/dovercourt.