Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

April 12, 2011 09:06 ET

Norfolk Fire Service Cuts Cause Staffing Black-Hole

NORFOLK, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - April 12, 2011) - Last weekend Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) resorted to out-dated, Victorian labour solutions to cover staffing black-holes within the frontline service.

NFRS recently made cuts to the frontline service which removed staffing from the frontline and then placed them into administrative roles. This has placed extreme strain on the crewing arrangements for fire engines. These cuts were part of the service's so called integrated risk management plan (IRMP) which is supposed to enhance the service we provide to the public, taking into account all the risks around Norfolk, and to provide adequate resources to cover safely these risks. But in this case IRMP planning was financially driven and safety was a secondary concern.

Instead of redirecting back to the frontline those firefighters they had transferred to administrative tasks, NFRS managers decided to take firefighters away from other fire stations, leaving too few firefighters left behind to keep their own fire engine available for 999 calls.

Peter Greeves, Norfolk FBU brigade chairperson said "This is no way to run a professional, life-saving service like ours, it can only be described as robbing Peter to pay Paul and importantly it leaves sections of our communities stripped of 999 fire cover in one part of the county to try and cover up a hole in the frontline somewhere else". The Brigade are giving preferential treatment to wholetime stations in the towns and city whilst the towns and villages with retained stations are being left with at best, reduced cover or no cover at all.

This practice is unnecessary and was warned against by the FBU. Firefighting is a hazardous activity at the best of times and the service has exposed firefighters to even greater risks by stretching them more thinly across the county, working in firefighting teams they barely know and with technical equipment they have rarely used.

When the chips are down, firefighters rely on the close and professional relationship they have with their crew-mates. They work and train together on a daily basis, fine-tuning their skills as a professional firefighting team.

Jamie Wyatt, Norfolk FBU brigade secretary said "When you cut corners in our risk-critical profession you will inevitably put the lives of firefighters and the public we serve at risk. Last weekends shenanigans are proof already of the damaging affects of the cuts.

Prior to the 2010 election, David Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr that if ministers came to him proposing frontline reductions they would be "sent straight back to their department to go away and think again".

Norfolk has a Conservative majority fire authority; they agreed to these dangerous cuts that were put forward to the Conservative County Council Cabinet to rubber stamp. The FBU now urge the fire authority to heed David Cameron's words and "think again" before someone pays the ultimate price."

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:
    Peter Greeves
    Norfolk FBU Chairperson

    Jamie Wyatt
    Norfolk FBU Secretary

    Adrian Clark
    Region 9 Secretary