Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 19, 2008 19:02 ET

Firefighters in the East of England Believe Government Has Let Them Down

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2008) -

MEDIA RELEASE: EMBARGO: 00.01 HOURS MONDAY OCTOBER 20

Most firefighters in East Anglia and the east of England think insufficient or inadequate training is compromising firefighters' safety. A majority want an end to cuts in frontline personnel, and most firefighters do not feel the government values them.

Government proposals to create eight big new fire control rooms for the whole country will make the fire and rescue service respond less well to incidents, and make firefighters less safe, in the opinion of a majority of firefighters. In the east of England, this will mean the closure of six local emergency fire control rooms in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, and their replacement by one big and remote control centre in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

This alarming picture of a discontented and disillusioned workforce in the fire and rescue service comes from a YouGov poll of FBU members commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union. It comes at a time when the Fire Brigades Union is also expressing concern over firefighter safety and the increased numbers killed in recent years - firefighters will be lobbying Parliament on November 12.

Asked what were the four best ways of spending money on improving the fire and rescue service, more than nine out of 10 (92%) of those surveyed said more training, seven out of 10 (71%) said more frontline personnel, and more than half (53%) said modern and safe personal radios. Just one in 100 (1%) suggested moving to regional control centres.

So Government plans to close all 46 emergency fire control rooms in England and replace them with just 8 regional centres outside London got a comprehensive thumbs down from firefighters.

71% agreed that "Insufficient or inadequate operational training is compromising the safety of firefighters at incidents." 84%) agree that the fire service must "stop cutting frontline personnel if it is to provide a coherent, effective and safe response to the incidents it is expected to attend." 84%) do not agree that the government "really values the Fire and Rescue Service and those who work in it." Nine out of ten (89%) think plans for 8 regional control centres will make the fire and rescue service's response worse.

"This is the authentic voice of the men and women who save lives every day, and it is telling the government, not just to change course, but to change its whole approach" said regional secretary Adrian Clarke. "They want resources to go into frontline personnel, training and equipment to do the job, which are being cut; not into extravagant and untried mammoth computer systems and the army of consultants required to explain why they do not work properly."

YouGov interviewed 1,969 FBU members online across the UK between 4 and 14 August 2008, including a subset of 100 in the east of England. Data are unweighted.

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 017 713