Lives at risk as fire engines are cut back

Lives are being put at risk in Merseyside because it will take firefighters far longer to arrive at emergencies due to a cut in the number of hours that fire engines are crewed, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said today.

The warning comes after Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service announced that fire engines at Eccleston and Crosby fire stations will no longer be staffed by wholetime fire crews between the hours 20:30 – 08:30. Instead, the engines will be transferred to the Retained Duty System whereby firefighters are called in from home to respond to emergencies within 30 minutes.

Kevin Hughes, brigade secretary of the FBU in Merseyside, said: “These dangerous cuts could cost lives. In the Eccleston, St Helens and Newton le-Willows area of Merseyside, only one engine will be immediately available during the night. It is a shocking state of affairs and should worry everyone in our community. If two incidents are called in at the same time or if there is a major emergency requiring multi-engine response, it will inevitably cause delays in getting firefighters to the scene of the incident.

“The speed and weight (i.e. the number of firefighters/fire engines) of response is crucial when it comes to saving lives and limiting the spread of a fire. If we don’t get this right it means the work the firefighters can do to save lives is severely curtailed. It puts the public, as well as the firefighters themselves, at greater risk of serious injury or even worse.

“For the sake of public safety, the government need to reverse the damaging cuts to the fire service which are putting Merseyside communities at risk.”

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