Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 30, 2009 07:26 ET

Essex Fire Crews to Stage Protests at Colchester, Chelmsford and Harlow as Fire Bosses Press on With Cuts on 1st October

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2009) - Essex fire crews are to stage protests against cuts to frontline fire services outside their fire stations at Colchester, Chelmsford and Harlow. From October 1, cuts in the number of firefighters will mean all three stations will suffer from the removal of dedicated crews for specialist emergency vehicles.

The protests are due to start at 9.00 am and finish at 11.00 am outside Colchester, Chelmsford and Harlow fire stations.

This first wave of cuts affects these three stations and will be followed soon by similar cuts plans affecting Leigh, Southend, Basildon and/or Grays fire stations.

The cuts centre on the controversial decision to downgrade the way special appliances like rescue tenders and aerial (high reach) appliances are crewed. The cuts mean there will only be enough firefighters to crew three of the four appliances currently crewed at these fire stations (two fire engines and two specialist vehicles), even if they are all needed in a 999 emergency.

Adrian Clarke, FBU Regional Secretary said: "The fact is that no matter how technologically advanced a fire engine is, it becomes utterly useless if it's left sitting idle in a fire station without a driver and fire crew on board – the fire service equivalent of the Marie Celeste.

"Our job is all about saving lives in an emergency and for us every second counts. Just as night follows day, inevitably there will be occasions when all the fire engines at a fire station will be needed to deal with 999 emergencies but these cuts will mean we will not be able to respond, or there will be a delay, due to a lack of firefighters. And that can mean the difference between life and death.

"The chief says that, 'statistically', this won't happen that often. Well, it will be of little comfort to the injured or the bereaved to be told that they were 'statistically' unlucky to have suffered the emergency when they did. The fire authority may be willing to take a chance with peoples lives but the fire crews on the front line are adamant that these cuts are a tragedy waiting to happen – and if the professionals are worried, then the public should be too."

In July, Essex fire service was already stretched beyond its limits in the south of the county by only 3 fires and it took approximately 30 minutes for the first fire engine to arrive at a major vehicle and pallet fire at a scrapyard. Despite the very best efforts of firefighters, officers and our emergency fire control staff, there simply were not enough personnel or appliances to attend all the incidents within the times set down by the Fire Authority.

The cuts to be implemented on 1st October will increase the risk of such circumstances recurring and will mean a worse 999 service for the people of Essex.

Contact Information

  • Adrian Clarke
    07917 017713
    or
    Paul Adams
    07967 720363
    or
    Mick Rogers
    07967 023709
    or
    Keith Handscomb
    07730 435633