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After lengthy, serious and constructive discussions negotiators from Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigades Union have drawn up a collective agreement which they believe provides a way forward for meeting both parties' objectives and concerns.

The agreement strikes the right balance between the maintenance of high-quality firefighting services and ensuring that we continue to build on our already considerable achievements in improving public safety and reducing fire risks.

The agreement includes a number of areas designed to increase skills and capacity in delivering community safety work and will address the improved use of resources invested in all areas of our work especially around prevention, protection and emergency response. Specifically we are proposing:

--Improved arrangements for levels of attendance and emergency response times for property fires in high risk areas

--The maintenance of existing staffing levels on fire engines

--An appliance at Hartlepool and a hydraulic platform at Stockton not to be permanently staffed but to be available for use in special circumstances

--Determination of appropriate staffing levels on a 'station by station' basis for the delivery of a balanced programme of prevention, protection and emergency response.

--The introduction of new station based Community Safety Teams committed to the delivery of preventative work across the area.

--The ability to strategically deploy our fire engines dependent on risk and demand.

--An increase in the number of specialist staff to work directly with those most vulnerable from fire and other emergencies.

The proposals will now be put to members of the Fire Brigades Union with a recommendation to accept from their negotiators and brigade committee.

Ian Hayton, executive director said 'We feel that that this package of proposals provides a framework for moving forward in a way which meets our shared objectives to enhance our work in the prevention and protection field and at the same time ensure that we are in a position to deliver the quality of firefighting response which the public of Cleveland have come to expect-and which they deserve.

'If the proposals are accepted we will be in position where we will have significant numbers of staff, based within stations and able to deliver safety improvement services, yet at the same time retain the flexibility to maximise the resources available for emergency response. We feel this is a very positive outcome which is in the interests of the brigade, our staff and, above all, the public we serve.'

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