House burning

Gloucestershire firefighters slam disgraceful decision to remove full-time cover during ongoing consultation

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Gloucestershire has slammed senior managers in the county’s fire and rescue service for “suspending” full-time fire cover at Cirencester fire station, despite a public consultation into the future of fire cover at this station being inconclusive.

Fire cover in Cirencester is the subject of an ongoing public consultation being run by Gloucestershire County Council, who recently announced plans to cut frontline fire cover in the county.  Full-time firefighters from Cirencester are being removed and Painswick fire station closed down. The council invited the public to comment on the plans through a consultation which began on 1 October and is due to close on 4 January 2016. Local campaigning firefighters say that, 999 response times will increase and public safety will be jeopardised.

Although consultation is incomplete, senior fire service managers announced they were “suspending” the duty system at Cirencester and have now removed all full-time firefighters from the station saying that they are doing it “to comply with health and safety legislation”. The union has hit back at the decision, calling it “disgraceful” and saying it “totally undermines the ongoing public consultation”.

FBU regional secretary Trevor French said: “They say they are doing it to “ensure legislative compliance” with health and safety but we believe that is just an excuse. The FBU put forward a number of alternative options which would have ensured compliance with legislation and ensured that full-time cover would have remained available at Cirencester, but these were rejected. The union had registered a formal dispute and asked for an independent review of the situation, but the service has chosen to press ahead regardless.”

Local FBU secretary Scott Turner added: “By pressing ahead in this manner local managers have not followed the agreed industrial relations negotiating procedures. We have made our views clear to principal managers.  The union will continue to pursue all options available to us, including seeking formal legal advice. We will also be contacting the leader of the council and demanding that he reverse this decision.”

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