Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Firefighters Fear for Their Safety; Union Claims That Training Is Inadequate

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Firefighters Fear for Their Safety; Union Claims That Training Is Inadequate

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Loraine

FIREFIGHTERS in the North East are claiming they are fearful for their safety as a result of inadequate training.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) bosses believe there has been too big a shift in priorities towards preventative work such as fitting fire alarms and educating schoolchildren.

While they acknowledged the importance of the community work, they believe it has "diverted attention" from training and also taken away vital numbers from the front line.

Steve Gregg, North East regional secretary for the FBU, said 13 firefighters had been killed in the line of duty across the country in the last five years, as opposed to just one in the five years before that.

"Something must be going wrong somewhere for the figures to go up so dramatically. It's about getting a balance and there's been far too big a shift in the direction of prevention work," he said.

"As a union we totally support resources going into prevention but not at the expense of intervention work.

"You would never get the police service doing that - putting more community officers out there at the expense of bobbies on the beat.

"Since 2003, every fire authority in the country has lost front line staff and we now have an army of consultants, mentors and analysts.

"From going around stations, people are worried - that's the message that's coming across loud and clear."

Meanwhile, chairman of the FBU for Northumberland Gary Wilson said fire-fighter deaths were invariably caused by inadequate training.

"It's often either a lack of the right equipment, because of funding, or a lack of training - which is the biggest issue.

"Although nationally the figures for fire deaths are decreasing, the statistics for firefighter deaths are increasing.

Everybody connected with the fire service is concerned about this. …

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