Fire union boss’s warning as service searches for cuts

BRAVE Firefighters tackling a blaze at a cottage near Bishop's Waltham ''''                     Picture: Simon Rowle
BRAVE Firefighters tackling a blaze at a cottage near Bishop's Waltham '''' Picture: Simon Rowle
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FEARS over the time it could take firefighters to respond to emergencies in the future have been raised by a union official.

Nigel McCullen, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in Hampshire and a firefighter at Southsea fire station, said financial constraints in the future could affect the response to calls.

The service has to save £12m over the next four years.

His comments come as the service launches a public questionnaire as part of a risk review of its work.

Mr McCullen said: ‘We understand that the fire service has got only so much money to work with and that it has to make cuts.

‘That is what risk review means – how it can make cuts to the fire service.

‘We are working with it to try and make sure these cuts are as safe as possible.

‘However, what that means fewer fire engines, potentially fewer firefighters.

‘If they do have smaller fire engines, there could be fewer people on them.

‘There’s a possibility that we will not be able to get to fire calls as quickly as we do now.

‘There is a big concern that it is going to have a huge impact on front-line fires and the service the public gets from us.’

Asked about the impact it could have on union members, he said: ‘There could be job cuts.

‘Obviously, if they have got smaller fire engines and they may have fewer people on them, we also may not respond with as many firefighters to a fire.

‘At the moment, at least five fire engines go to a fire call at a high rise.

‘They may decide to only have three go in the future.

‘There could be cuts to jobs, which is obviously a concern to the FBU.’

Responding to the comments, area manager Steve Foye said: ‘We are currently reviewing all aspects of our work.

‘This has been driven not only by ongoing reductions in government funding, but also fundamental changes 
in both the type and number of incidents we respond to, and the communities we serve.

‘While there will be changes to our services in the future, the safety of the public and our firefighters remains our absolute priority.

‘The aim of this review will be to focus our resources in the area of greatest risk and deliver the best value services to the public.’