Safety must always be the top priority for fire service

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Calling the emergency services in times of trouble is something we all take for granted.

Whether it’s the police, ambulance or fire, we expect a swift and effective response, and rightly so.

Which is why it’s troubling to bring you the story we do today about fears being raised over the fire service’s new smaller vehicles.

Two smaller vehicles are set to be introduced – a first- response and an intermediate.

Both are smaller than the familiar fire engines we all know.

But The Fire Brigades Union says they are not up to scratch and crews and people’s lives could be put at risk.

They say the problem is the proposed reduction of full-sized fire engines in the fleet from 75 to 25.

And Councillor Roger Price, a member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority also has worries.

So what’s clear is there are genuine concerns around this issue

Of course, we know in these times of austerity, difficult decisions have to be made when it comes to spending.

The fire service needs to cut £12.2m over the next four years alone – no mean feat.

But with something as important as this, safety should always be the first priority.

There are reassurances in the article from deputy chief fire officer Neil Odin, who says, in fact, the service would be improved thanks to the new vehicles as they are more efficient and better place to get through narrow streets – a particular problem in Portsmouth.

But if there’s even the tiniest question mark over whether the same service can be provided then this is something that needs to be looked at very carefully.