The Fire Brigades Union has warned that proposed cuts of Â£5m to local fire and rescue services will have a massive impact upon firefighter and public safety in Tyne and Wear.
Tyne and Wear Fire Authority are meeting at 10am on Monday 20 January to decide on proposalsÂ that could include:
- the closure of Wallsend and Gosforth fire stations as well as Sunderland Central
- the loss of 131 frontline firefighter posts
- the loss of six fire engines (with another two “stood down” at night)
- the loss of one of three â€˜aerial ladder platformsâ€™ used to access tall buildings and other incidents.
FBU Tyne and Wear Brigade Secretary Dave Turner said: â€œAll of these proposals are unprecedented, unsustainable and unacceptable.
â€œReductions in government funding have already seen years of cuts to our service, and during the consultation process Fire Brigade Union members across the region made it clear that further reductions will jeopardize the safety of firefighters and the public.
â€œFirefighters are standing with their local communities and calling on fire bosses to reject these proposals and protect both frontline firefighters and the public of Tyne and Wear.â€
If Sunderland Central fire station is closed, it will be the first time there has been no fire engine in the centre of the city since 1908.
The FBU has also questioned the necessity of further cuts while the fire authority is holding unprecedented reserve levels of Â£25-Â£35 million. The authority is also considering the introduction of â€˜targeted response vehiclesâ€™ â€” vans staffed by two firefighters â€” to compensate for losses of firefighters and fire engines, and the construction of a new fire station in the Benton area to compensate for the closures.