Union head urges fire authority to reject front-line service cuts


- Credit: Archant

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will urge Devon and Somerset Fire Authority to listen to residents’ concerns and reject cuts to front-line services.

At a meeting of the authority today (Friday), revised proposals will be debated which include removing eight fire engines, closing two fire stations and crewing some fire engines responding to incidents with fewer than four fire fighters.

More than 43,000 people signed a petition from the FBU rejecting the proposed cuts, while 95 per cent of 4,000 recipients opposed cuts to front-line services during a public consultation of possible cost-saving measures held by the authority.

James Leslie, Devon and Somerset FBU brigade organiser, said: "We're pleased to see the service has paid some attention to public opinion.

"However, although the new proposals are a marked improvement on the initial plans, there is still much to be concerned by.

"We welcome the commitment to achieving the initial response standard of the first fire engine arriving at an incident within 10 minutes on 75 per cent of occasions, but this must be for a fully crewed fire engine.

"The service should also commit to reach its full attendance standard of nine firefighters at an incident in 13 minutes, which the service are still refusing to report on.

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"We support the service's plans for more prevention and protection work, but this should not be at the expense of front-line services.

"The consultation made it clear the public do not support any cuts to front-line services.

"The fire authority stated the public consultation was not a tick-box exercise, and, in the light of such an overwhelmingly negative response, we demand they reject the recommendations as they stand."

An FBU spokesman added: "The cuts were proposed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in June last year in an attempt to save costs.

"Despite promises from senior management to protect frontline services, full-time fire cover and jobs have been slashed since the merger of Devon Fire and Rescue Service and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 2007."