Firefighters have warned politicians that plans to axe 49 firefighter posts at Avon Fire and Rescue Service represent an “unacceptable and dangerous” threat to the safety of the public.
The proposals, which will be voted upon by fire authority members on 10 February, would see the downgrading of Yate fire station to a day crewed system, meaning an immediate response will only be available during the hours of 8am-5pm, with night cover being reduced to one on-call appliance only.
Crewing changes would also mean specialist aerial appliances, used for rescues from high rise buildings, could not be guaranteed for mobilisation and the heavy rescue special appliance in Avonmouth, used in serious road collisions, will no longer have a dedicated crew 24/7.
The combination of these cuts will mean slower response times to emergencies, increasing the risk to both firefighters and the public, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.
The campaign against the potential cuts has been led by the FBU and found support from Bristol MPs Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire and Karin Smyth.
Last month, they wrote a joint letter to the Home Office to demand that the government ‘give our firefighters the resources they need to keep us safe’.
The formal FBU response to the public consultation, which closed on 31 December, calls for members of the Avon Fire and Rescue Authority to reject the proposals saying ‘it is time to recognise the dangerous impact these cuts would have on public safety if they are voted through’.
Gary Spindler, who is a Bristol firefighter as well as the chair of the FBU in Avon, said: “Firefighters in Avon believe these cuts would seriously compromise our ability to deal with emergency incidents and keep the public safe. They are a step too far and it’s time for the government to start listening and stop cutting.
“Firefighters have been out on the streets asking the public for support against these cuts and the response has been overwhelming. They took the time to listen to our concerns and offered us their support, signing our petition and expressing their alarm at these proposed cuts.
“The measures are not supported by either the professionals who deliver the fire and rescue service or the public who receive it. If the consultation process is meaningful then the politicians who are proposing these cuts need to think again and make sure that the government gets the message. The fire and rescue service is a lifesaving emergency service which requires investment – not cuts.”