Gloucestershire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have hit out at â€œcuts by stealthâ€ which will see the loss of nearly one in eight full-time frontline firefighters. It says the cuts will mean longer waits for key firefighting equipment, increasing risk to the public and fire crews themselves.
Under the plans nearly one in eight frontline full-timers will be lost â€“ 24 out of 206 â€“ but the ultimate figure could be considerably more. The fire authority meets to consider the plans on 1st February 2012.
The 3-year plan, does not mention the number of frontline posts being lost. The proposals to cut firefighters available to crew turntable ladders â€“ high reach appliances – would see jobs lost.
Currently the four vehicles have specific crews. In future these specific crews will be axed meaning the appliances can only be used if there is a crew available. The specialist higher reach fire fighting and rescue appliances may no longer be immediately available when needed.
The cuts would lead to a significant reduction in the number of full-time crews available to deal with every kind of emergency across the county. This includes dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack (the service does have a specialist mass decontamination unit for this purpose) or other major incidents such as flooding.
Major incidents of this type will typically tie up very large numbers of fire crews for extensive periods, sometimes weeks.
Mike Tully, Brigade Secretary for Gloucestershire FBU said â€œFrontline crews are being targeted for cuts which will directly impact on our ability to respond to 999 emergencies. The change to the way these vehicles are crewed will mean we cannot guarantee they will be immediately available when they are needed.
â€œThese higher reach appliances are critical for public and firefighter safety. They are typically used for rescues above the height of a standard house and at major fires to provide an overview of the scene as well as firefighting.
â€œThose who praise our highly performing fire service in public now want to savage it behind closed doors by cutting nearly one in eight full-time frontline posts. The County Council has not been upfront with the public about this, these are cuts by stealth.
Tam McFarlane South West FBU executive council member said â€œThis is a smoke and mirrors approach to public consultation designed to conceal major cuts. There is no openness and transparency about what they are planning.
â€œThese plans will decimate the workforce whilst they are taking on more responsibility, work and functions. Frontline fire crews are paying the price for austerity they didnâ€™t cause and the public will suffer as a result of these cuts.â€
Mike Tully Brigade Secretary Gloucestershire 07855478168
Tam McFarlane 07813 170279