Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

April 26, 2013 07:55 ET

Norfolk Fire Crews Warn 999 Cuts Cost Lives

NORFOLK, ENGLAND--(Marketwired - April 26, 2013) - Fire crews warn that cuts in vital frontline fire and rescue services are putting firefighters and the public at increased risk. The government's economic austerity programme is already having a damaging effect on Norfolk's frontline fire and rescue services and even worse is expected to come in the next spending round. Norfolk fire and rescue service is already the third poorest funded brigade for cost per head in the country and the 999 resources are being spread ever-more thinly across one of the largest and most diverse rural areas.

The FBU welcomes recent interest in the plight of the fire and rescue service and the concerns being voiced by local politicians in the run up to the local elections.

Over the last two years Norfolk fire and rescue service has seen one full time fire engine and 24 firefighters axed from the Norwich area and a further four full-time firefighters from every other full-time station at Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn and in the Norwich area.

The people of Norfolk are relying on a diminishing mixture of full-time and retained (part-time) firefighters who are already stretched to breaking point. It is already the case that there could be as few as 28 full-time firefighters on duty at night across the entire county, ready to respond immediately to 999 calls supported by retained colleagues.

Cuts in the numbers of full-time firefighters and fire engines means the remaining crews being more thinly spread across Norfolk and puts increased reliance on retained crews.

Retained firefighters are "on call" staff who live and do different work in the same area as their local fire station. They are paged when a 999 call comes in, they stop what they are doing, make their own way through traffic and weather to the fire station before they can climb aboard the fire engine to respond to the emergency. Retained firefighters are a vital part of the integrated 999 team in Norfolk but due to the current financial climate, a lot of our retained firefighters are having to work further away from their local fire station and there is increasing pressure on them not to leave their primary paid work. These pressures lead to slower response times and quite often result in fire engines sitting at fire stations with no crew available to respond to an emergency call.

The chief fire officer and senior managers have had to make some very difficult decisions recently and fire crews warn that any further cuts to the frontline will inevitably put the safety of the public and firefighters at even greater risk.

Contact Information

  • Norfolk FBU brigade secretary
    Kev Game
    07917 017713