Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

December 15, 2009 05:44 ET

Essex Fire Dispute-Managers Refusal to Accept Assistance in Reaching Agreement "Totally Irresponsible"

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2009) - Essex fire crews say the refusal of managers to accept help in resolving their dispute over cuts is "totally irresponsible". The fire authority has not even discussed a formal request by the Fire Brigades Union to seek mediators to help broker a deal.

The Fire Brigades Union said cuts are already beginning to bite with the chief officer now revealing there are frontline firefighter shortages. The union warns the shortages will get worse if more planned cuts go ahead.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU Brigade Secretary said: "We already have shortages of frontline firefighters with more cuts to come which will make matters worse. There have been significant problems with appliances taking nearly 30 minutes to get to one major fire.

"The removal of specialist crews has meant not all the appliances have been available when we needed them and where we needed them. There are growing concerns about the cuts in the pipeline and the impact they will have.

"There are senior officers leaving, industrial relations are deteriorating and we have reached deadlock in the talks. These are not minor issues raised by Essex fire crews and we expect more than an abusive rant from the chief officer in response.

"It is perfectly normal for external assistance to be sought in these circumstances which is what we are doing. It is totally irresponsible for that request to be dismissed in the manner it has been given the problems which are all too apparent to Essex fire crews."

The cuts mean frontline firefighters being spread more thinly across Essex and has also led to the controversial decision to downgrade the way special appliances like rescue tenders and aerial (high reach) appliances are crewed. On October 1, cuts in the number of firefighters at Colchester, Chelmsford and Harlow stations resulted in the removal of dedicated crews for specialist emergency vehicles.

The cuts mean there are only 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.

Similar plans affecting Leigh, Southend, Basildon and Grays fire stations are to be implemented sometime soon, but exactly when is yet to be announced. The union has also objected to a number of other changes which it says local managers are trying to impose rather than negotiate.

Contact Information

  • Regional and local media contacts:
    Keith Flynn
    07956 459111
    Mick Rogers
    07967 023709
    Lindley Chambers
    07792 741917
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 017713