Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cuts to Fire Service Will Be Risk to Life, Say Union Bosses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cuts to Fire Service Will Be Risk to Life, Say Union Bosses

Article excerpt

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter jnl.newsdesk@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE loss of another 82 North East firefighters will make the risk to life "10 times worse", according to union bosses.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned job cut proposals by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), claiming they will endanger the lives of firefighters, the public and other emergency service personnel.

Final plans to slash 78 firefighters' posts and another four control room jobs over the next three years were confirmed on Tuesday lunchtime, but fire chiefs have insisted that the proposals will not compromise public safety. However, Tyne and Wear FBU secretary Russ King said: "We believe that we are already operating under that safety margin now.

"You imagine taking another 82 firefighters off that, any move to remove them will just add to the risk of the already risky business of what a firefighter does and make it 10 times worse. This is not just the potential harm to firefighters, but also the public and other emergency first responders. The risk of us turning up to an incident without backup and firefighters acting out of moral pressure. You will get police and ambulance crews wanting to act.

"You will have people watching us stand around doing nothing, that will bring a huge amount of responsibility on those first responders. It will put lives more at risk."

Asked if strike action from firefighters' was possible, he replied that the FBU "would not rule anything out" but would wait until the budget cuts are formally voted on by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority next Monday before making a decision.

The FBU has strongly opposed the job cuts, designed to save the fire service PS3.3m, at a time when TWFRS has earmarked more than PS5m to build a new station in Hebburn. …

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