Tyne and Wear firefighters have warned that 20% cuts approved today at a meeting of the local fire authority will have a massive impact upon firefighter and public safety.
Tyne and Wear Fire Authority voted in favour of the most severe option under consideration and will close three fire stations, cut 131 firefighter jobs and axe six fire appliances (with two more being â€˜stood downâ€™ at night).
Fire Brigades Union secretary for Tyne and Wear, Dave Turner, said: â€œThese cuts will put lives at risk.
â€œThe authority is sitting on Â£25-Â£35m of reserves, and yet chose to ignore the views of firefighters and the communities in Tyne and Wear.
â€œThe government has already cut fire services to shreds, but these new attacks are worse than ever.â€
The FBU said that over 200 of its members attended the authorityâ€™s meeting and we were left â€œstunnedâ€ by its decisions, particularly the closure of Wallsend, Gosforth and Sunderland Central fire stations.
The authority also agreed to remove one of just three aerial ladder platforms in the area (used to access tall buildings and other types of incidents) and introduce â€œtargeted response vehiclesâ€ â€” vans staffed by two firefighters with â€œlimited capability and resourcesâ€.