Cuts to regional fire services ‘put public and firefighters at risk’

Image courtesy of Fire Brigades Union.

FIREFIGHTERS’ lives – and those of people they’re trying to save – are being put at risk by Government cuts to the regional fire service, a union leader has warned.

Russ King, Secretary of the Tyne and Wear Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said: “These cuts make a firefighter’s job a lot more dangerous, and put the lives of the public at risk.”

The cuts to regional fire services are part of Government reductions to spending on fire and rescue services across the UK. The FBU says this has caused a 22% fall in the number of firefighters in the past decade.

Mr King said: “It has been proposed that Tyne and Wear will lose one firefighter from each fire engine, which means we turn up to an emergency with four firefighters and this limits what equipment we are able to use.

“A firefighter needs the appropriate resources to carry out their role properly, so reducing staffing and firefighter posts will greatly affect firefighter safety and the safety of the public.”

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) is the hardest-hit in the North East, with government cuts to fire services causing it to lose 151 frontline firefighters in the last seven years.

Mr King said: “A total of £22 million has been reduced from Tyne and Wear spending powers over the past seven years.

“The Tyne and Wear Fire Services also need to find a further £1.8 million minimum savings within the next couple of years, and by 2020 this will have gone up to £2.8 million.”

Adjustments to TWFRS funding has meant the removal of six fire engines over the last four years.

The FBU says these cuts will severely compromise their ability to respond effectively to emergencies.

The Home Office has justified the cuts due to a decline in fire-related emergencies in recent years, claiming that the total number of fire incidents in England has more than halved in the past 10 years.

For more information visit the Fire Brigades Union website.

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