Firefighters in Essex today warned that cuts to the workforce from next April will severely hamper their ability to respond to emergencies such as the flat fire in Purfleet last week when they rescued three people, including a young child.
The incident, which also left 50 people homeless, needed two fire appliances and a high-reach rescue vehicle from Grays fire station to be used on site simultaneously in order to respond to the emergency effectively.
Andrew Knowles, local representative for the FBU in Grays, said: “The swift attendance of fire crews undoubtedly saved the lives of this family and prevented the fire spreading to other adjoining flats.
â€œThis incident highlights the need for all of Grays fire stationâ€™s appliances to be available all the time.
â€œIf firefighter cuts go ahead, as of April 2015, the public of Grays, South Ockendon, Aveley, West Thurrock and Purfleet could have to wait at least 45 minutes for an ALP, as opposed to the 10 minutes it waited last week”.
Riccardo la Torre, brigade chair for the FBU in Essex, said: “Incidents like this just go to show that politicians are ignoring the very real risk that is growing every day in Essex.
â€œIf you speak to our crews, you will hear that fires of this nature are happening all of the time, and when they do the swift response of the correct equipment, vehicles and firefighters is the difference between life and death.
â€œDCLG and the Essex Fire Authority need to rethink their cuts agenda immediately and work with us to provide a properly staffed and properly funded fire service.â€
Essex Fire Authority are changing the way vehicles are crewed meaning fire appliances will no longer have a dedicated crew and the number of firefighters will be cut.
If a similar incident occurs after April 2015, there will not be enough firefighters to crew two fire appliances and an ALP.