October 24, 2012 12:40 ET
SURREY, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 24, 2012) - Fire engines could soon be off the road in Surrey because of acute crew shortages caused by lack of investment by Surrey County Council, the Fire Brigades Union has warned.
Richard Jones, FBU Surrey brigade secretary said: "We need investment now to ensure that the fire service provides the five crew members on every fire appliance that the council agreed to last June but instead the service is under an imposed freeze on recruitment due to lack of funding. This pledge was set out in the County Council's Integrated Risk Management Plan, passed after full consultation with the people of Surrey."
But the crews of five on every fire engine pledge is not being honoured - prompting the FBU to speak out and alert the public. "We are now down to four firefighters on virtually every appliance, which is the minimum allowed. This is putting firefighters and the public at greater risk," Jones added. "If the crewing establishment in Surrey drops any further, appliances will have to come off the run altogether. It could happen anytime soon, putting people and property at risk along with fire fighters.
"We need to see investment in crew levels now. We need the recruitment freeze lifted and the numerous vacancies filled. But instead we have been told the freeze on recruitment will be in place for the foreseeable future. We are also experiencing cut-backs in safety critical training. We need investment now - not cuts. The people of Surrey are paying for properly crewed fire appliances through their council tax, but this is not being delivered."
The FBU's warning came as Surrey County Council's cabinet gave the go ahead for a pilot to link up with a private search and rescue company Specialist Group International in the first deal of its kind in the UK.
"If the money can be found to fund this pilot scheme with the private sector, why can't it be found to fund fully crewed fire appliances throughout the county?" Jones said. "The investment in crewing levels is needed now. Is it ethical to use money collected from council tax to fund private companies when Surrey fire and rescue service does not have adequate funds to crew its fire engines properly?"
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