The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has welcomed mayor Andy Burnham’s decision to freeze proposed funding cuts to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service while a review is undertaken into how they would affect the preparedness of the service.
In an address to firefighters at the Fire Training Centre yesterday (18 December), the mayor of Greater Manchester also announced a recruitment drive in order to fill vacancies within the service more rapidly and confirmed firefighters working overtime, as a result of staff shortages, would be paid at the time and a half rate for at least the next six months.
Les Skarratts, executive council member for the FBU in the North West, said: “The mayor has unveiled some very sensible, constructive and pragmatic solutions to the problems facing the fire service. Members of the community and firefighters in Greater Manchester have been put at risk as a result of years of funding cuts that have diminished the resources that are available in the event of an emergency. Many engines are unavailable simply because there aren’t enough firefighters to crew them. The announcements made by Andy Burnham will go a long way to addressing these issues and we will endeavour to work with the mayor as well as hold him to account.”
An endemic shortage of firefighters means fire engines are regularly unable to attend emergencies. In October, 53 shifts (out of 62) saw fire engines unavailable due to staffing shortages.