Norfolk firefighters say the scale of Government cuts will put lives and property in the county at significantly increased risk saying it will take longer for them to get to emergencies.
Yesterday Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) published their 2015 Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) which outlines the range of cuts being prepared in anticipation of a huge reduction in funding from central government by the Conservatives.
Kevin Game, secretary of the FBU in Norfolk, said: “Norfolk firefighters are truly shocked by the scale of cuts that we could be facing. NFRS is already the cheapest cost per head brigade in the country and yet we cover one of the biggest counties geographically in the country. We have already made savings of 25% over the last decade and frankly the service cannot safely take any more reductions.”
Even before the next round of cuts, NFRS funding is already 17% below the average for similar fire and rescue services which means at times firefighters are stretched to the limit. On an average day there could be as many as 25-40% of all Norfolk’s fire engines unavailable due to crewing shortages. Further cuts to the fire and rescue service would have a huge impact on the service delivered to the public in Norfolk.
Jamie Wyatt, regional secretary of the FBU in East Anglia, said: “If these cuts become a reality it will inevitably lead to even slower response times for fire engines getting to emergencies. Fire crews will be left with impossible choices. Do they wait for the back-up they need to commence rescue operations? Do they rush in to attempt a rescue without the correct resources in place risking the lives of firefighters and the public?
“When firefighters respond to an emergency, every second counts and it can mean the difference between life and death. Whilst we understand that Norfolk County Council is facing huge budget cuts from central government, the fire service in Norfolk simply cannot absorb these reductions as we have already been cut beyond the bone. Any further cuts to our essential 999 emergency services will be dangerous to the public and to firefighters.
“We urge the fire authority to reject these proposals and think again. We are also encouraging the public to look at the scale of the cuts proposed and ask how it will affect them. We urge the fire authority and the public to support their Norfolk firefighters, after all, the next life we save could be yours.”
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