Firefighters have been travelling across Essex county this week campaigning against huge frontline fire and rescue service cuts which could see frontline firefighter numbers cut by up to a quarter.
Firefighters in Essex will walk out this week in protest at the cuts. The FBU say fire chiefs are not being honest about the impact the cuts will have on the service delivered to the public.
Riccardo la Torre, brigade chair of the FBU in Essex, said: “It’s clear from the responses we are getting that the Essex public are fully behind our campaign. They realize that the more you keep cutting the number of firefighters, fire engines and equipment the greater the risks of people paying for it with their lives. Fewer firefighters mean slower responses to 999 calls. In our life-saving service every second can mean the difference between life and death and the difference between thousands or millions of pounds worth of damage.
“Fire chiefs are keeping important information from the public about the true consequences of these proposals. The public in Essex shouldn’t have the wool pulled over their eyes when it comes to life saving emergency services.
“Over the past decade Essex has suffered a 17.5% cut in the number of full time firefighters. Now they want to go even further and cut at least 25% more with the chief fire officer for Essex now saying it could possibly be even higher. If these cuts go through, the fire and rescue service in Essex will be decimated.”
As firefighters prepare to begin strike action at 9 am until 6 pm today (Wednesday 19 August) and again from 21 August, Keith Handscomb, FBU executive council member for East Anglia, said public support for firefighters was stronger than ever.
Handscomb said: “The public understand that we don’t want to have to take strike action. It is a last resort to try to stop the endless cuts and to get the fire authority to come clean with the public about how devastating these cuts will be for the thousands of people in Essex who still need a 999 fire and rescue response to save them from real-life emergencies.”
Firefighters will be on strike at 9am to 6 pm on 19 August and at various points from Friday 21 August until Wednesday 26 August 2015.