Holding fire helmet

Essex fire chiefs urged to oppose Westminster frontline 999 cuts

The second day of lawful strike action called by firefighters and 999 control staff in Essex will end at 6pm this evening.

However fire chiefs have ordered that staff will not be allowed to return to work – from 6pm tonight and right through the night, Essex firefighters will be locked-out again without pay. This will be for the second night shift in a row.

Keith Handscomb, executive council member for the FBU in Essex, said: “Fire chiefs are putting the public needlessly at risk by locking firefighters out for much longer periods than the short hours of lawful strike action called.

“The total hours of lawful strike called for these three days would have amounted to 29 hours but fire chiefs are extending that to 72 hours of reduced fire cover to the public.

“The number of ‘make-do’ crews that managers have cobbled together will leave less than a quarter of the normal number of fire engines available to respond to 999 emergencies. All specialist rescue teams normally available will also be locked out. This puts the public safety unnecessarily at increased risk.

“Instead of locking firefighters out of their stations as punishment senior managers, along with the fire authority, should be joining their frontline professionals in opposing Westminster’s huge funding cuts for frontline 999 services.

“We urge them to stop needlessly punishing the public and their firefighters with these lock-outs and to join us in defending frontline fire and rescue services.”

Essex County Fire and Rescue Authority plan to cut at least 179 firefighters and control staff resulting in a 20% overall cut, as well as detrimental changes to their working practices.

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