The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) told delegates at the TUC annual congress today that government funding cuts are stretching the fire and rescue service beyond the limit and putting lives at risk.
More than 9,600 firefighter jobs have gone since 2010, with fire stations closing all over the UK and scores of fire engines being left off the run. During the last six years, the fire and rescue service has lost almost a third of its central funding, with further cuts of another 20% signed off in Westminster this year. The FBU says this could mean a service literally cut in half by 2020.
Firefighter Tam McFarlane, who is also the FBU’s executive council member for the South West of England, said: “Be in no doubt government funding cuts have stretched us beyond the limit. They have compromised the safety of the public and firefighters alike.”
Describing the ‘perfect storm’ to threaten public safety, McFarlane said: “Fewer firefighters, spread over a wider area, with less back up, dealing with increased fire growth, responding to a wider, more complex range of incidents. And yet the cuts just keep on coming.”
McFarlane also criticized the imminent takeover of the fire and rescue service by Police and Crime Commissioners, describing it as a cost cutting exercise. “For all the political bluster about collaborative working, greater efficiencies and improved outcomes, we are not fooled – the fire service will be run down to fund the police.”
The motion to protect the fire and rescue service was seconded by the GMB union and supported overwhelmingly by delegates
For more information, go to www.fbu.org.uk