Firefighters in Essex took strike action Thursday 6 August in protest at the largest, most devastating cuts to emergency fire response in the history of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS).
FBU Brigade Chair for Essex Riccardo la Torre said “We will see these cuts hit all areas of our 999 response. Fire chiefs and politicians will tell you that fire calls are going down nationally – fire deaths in Essex however aren’t. Last year Essex firefighters and control staff responded to 14,000 emergencies and rescued over 2000 people, which is more than 5 a day. Those 2000 people, regardless of how many other incidents may happen that day, require the same amount of fire engines, the same number of firefighters and most importantly arriving in the same amount of time as they always do to allow us to rescue them safely.”
ECFRS are already missing attendance targets. Increasing response times further still could mean the difference between rescuing somebody and not rescuing them, between life and death.
Essex firefighters previously offered to return to their work agreements for major incidents, but ECFRS declined. Firefighters in the county have also suggested several compromises and provided cost neutral alternatives to the cuts that would have made some savings. The offers and suggestions were declined and refused by ECFRS.