Demonstrators will gather in Lincolnâ€™s St Martins Square at 11:30am on Saturday (31 January) to draw attention to the effects that radical cuts to the local fire service will have on the cityâ€™s safety. After a short rally, protestors will march to Speakersâ€™ Corner on Lincoln High Street.
The demonstration, called to protest about Â£1.3 million worth of cuts proposed for Lincolnshireâ€™s fire and rescue service, has been organised by the local â€˜Defend Lincoln Fire Servicesâ€™ group and will be supported by local firefighters who are members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
A public consultation about the proposed cuts ends on 6 February and demonstrators urge the public to record their views on the lowering of local safety standards. Protestors say the more public views are recorded, the more difficult they will be for the authority to ignore. Comments on what the authority concede are â€˜key changesâ€™ can be made on-line at http://bit.ly/LincsIRMP
Protestors point out that if the cuts are implemented, 24-hour fire stations will be downgraded, leaving reduced or part-time night cover; fire crews will be cut so that less than the current five firefighters will be allocated to each appliance; and the number of emergency service workers will be scaled down.
The FBUâ€™s brigade secretary for Lincolnshire, Dan Taylor, says he is enormously grateful to the â€˜Defend Lincoln Fire Servicesâ€™ group for organising the demonstration. â€œWe thank all members of the public who have thrown themselves into this campaign. It shows how strongly the local community feels about cuts to their fire service,â€ he said.
Dan stresses that it is inevitable that 999 response times will increase, impacting hugely on public safety.
â€œFirefighters in Lincoln do much more than put out fires,â€ he said. â€œWe respond to many incidents, especially road accidents. Our responses will be slower if these proposals go through.
â€œSlower response times can mean the difference between life and death. It is that serious.
â€œThe proposal to reduce the number of firefighters allocated to each appliance â€“ or fire engine – is equally shocking. Years of research and experience have gone into the conclusion that five crew per appliance is the efficient and correct number, which is why almost all brigades stick to the formula. The Lincoln fire authority should justify this in practical terms or withdraw it. Simply parroting the word â€˜Cutsâ€™ is not enough.â€
The organisers are hoping for a good turn-out on Saturday and urge those who cannot make it to the demonstration to make sure they tell Lincolnshireâ€™s fire and rescue service what they think of their proposals, either on the website http://bit.ly/LincsIRMPÂ or by ringing them on 01522 582222 to get hold of a feedback form.
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