Firefighters warn – emergency response to flooding threatened by cutbacks

Relentless cuts to frontline 999 services threaten to hamper firefighters’ ability to respond to floods and other emergencies, the Fire Brigades Union warned today, as parts of England grappled with the fallout from heavy downpours.

Savage spending cuts imposed on fire and rescue services by central government will lead to fewer fire stations, fewer fire engines and fewer firefighters – leaving local emergency crews ill-equipped to deal with floods, fires and other emergencies, the union is warning. These reductions will effect emergency response times.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union spoke as his members dealt with the effects of floods in the South West and other parts of the country. He has written to David Cameron, outlining the union’s concerns and calling for urgent action. On the eve of the general election, David Cameron pledged there would be no cuts to the frontline – a pledge the union says has already been broken. Firefighters lobbied their MPs earlier this month, raising the alarm over the potentially devastating effects of swingeing year-on-year cutbacks.

Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters have again performed an outstanding role in local communities affected by these devastating floods. Unfortunately the scale of cuts we are facing in the fire service will inevitably affect our ability to do the same in the future. Up and down the country fire services are considering cutting back on essential front line emergency services. That means that fire
stations are threatened with closure, fire engines will be axed and there will be fewer firefighters. And this is despite David Cameron’s promises to protect front line services.

“We have written to the prime minister outlining our concerns and asking him to ensure that the fire service has the resources to protect services. Give us the resources and firefighters will do the job.”

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