Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

June 12, 2012 12:19 ET

Paying More and Getting Less-Don't Be Fooled by the Cuts Essex Fire Crews Warn Public as Strike Ballot Result is Awaited

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - June 12, 2012) - Essex fire crews are warning the public not to be fooled by claims about fire service cuts. Essex fire crews says council tax has gone up while the public are waiting longer for a fire engine to arrive at a home fire.

The budget for Essex Fire Service in 2008 was £70.6 million and in 2012 it has been set at £77.2m. The precept (the amount Essex Council tax payers pay towards the Fire Service) has gone up from £39.5 million in 2008 to £43.1 million in 2012.

Combine this with the latest Government figures which show that the time it takes for Essex Fire Service to attend dwellings fires has gone up from 6.7mins in 2008 to 7.9mins in 2010/11 (latest data available). It is a simple rule of thumb for fire crews that a fire can double in size in a minute.

The Fire Brigades Union warns the Essex public are bearing the brunt of cuts, waiting over a minute longer for a response when their house is on fire. The public in Essex pay more now in 2012 for their fire service than they did in 2008 but are receiving less of a Service.

In the same period 2008-12, the reserves held by Essex Fire Service have gone from under £4m to just over £12m. Spending on projects such as the new IT system regularly going over budget.

The number of frontline full time firefighters have been slashed by 100 since 2008, loss of one in eight. The number of retained 'on call' firefighters has dropped by 60 since 2008, a loss of one in ten.

Further planned cuts would bring total losses of frontline fire crews to one in five since 2008. In the same period of time, Essex Fire Service has increased back office staff by 7.5% - from 238 in 2008 to 256 today.

The targeting of frontline crews for cuts flies in the face of Government claims that frontline services would be protected.

Mick Rogers FBU Brigade Secretary said: "Essex fire authority simply cannot go on targeting the frontline for further cuts. Further cuts would inevitably put the safety of the public and the remaining fire crews at increased risk.

"The drop off in response times clearly show that frontline cuts impact on service delivery. The result is a bigger fire by the time we arrive, greater risk to fire crews and the public and more fire damage.

"There is genuine anger among the frontline crews about what is happening. The fire authority should be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on this issue or about the outcome of the strike ballot due later today.

"We have repeatedly called upon the Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Hedley, to use his good office to remove the barriers to serious talks getting underway between the Fire Service and the FBU but to no avail.

"No firefighter ever wants to take strike action but if there is no genuine intention or positive moves to resolve the very real concerns of the frontline professionals then strike action becomes an ever increasing prospect.

"I'd urge the Fire Authority to wake up, understand the strong views of their own crews and kick start talks to resolve this dispute and protect frontline services."

The next Fire Authority meeting is this Wednesday, 13 June, at 10am at County Hall, Chelmsford. Firefighters will be lobbying this meeting to try to resolve the 3 year dispute in Essex ahead of the strike ballot result in the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June. The law then requires at least seven days notice of any strike action after that date.

Note to Editors

100 full time firefighters is the equivalent to crew 2 x 2 pump stations like Basildon, Clacton or Loughton, whereas 60 retained firefighters is the equivalent to crew at least 3 x 2 pump stations like Corringham, Braintree or Frinton.

Contact Information

  • Mick Rogers
    Brigade Secretary
    07967 023709

    Alan Chinn-Shaw
    Brigade Chair
    07967 720363

    Nick Mayes
    Assistant Brigade Secretary
    07917 065870