Isle of Wight council warned against adopting fire service proposals over safety fears

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is urging the Isle of Wight’s council cabinet to reject a controversial review of the fire service that would put public safety at risk.

The fire service review contains plans to cut the number of firefighters in a crew from five to four as well as axing 15% of the islands firefighting workforce.

On Thursday night (12 April), the council’s own scrutiny committee called for the review to be scrapped over public safety concerns. However the final decision will be made at a council cabinet meeting on Monday.

At the scrutiny meeting, the FBU argued the union’s opposition to the proposals and stressed that the safety of the public and fire crews was the paramount concern.

Andy Bowers, the deputy chief fire officer of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, who assisted in putting the review together, told the committee that crewing would be based on a minimum of five crew members. However, the review document contained evidence of minimum crewing being reduced to four.

Spence Cave, brigade secretary of the FBU in the Isle of Wight, said: “The scrutiny committee have decided on the evidence produced that they are not content with the plan. If the cabinet decide to go ahead with this then it will prove there is no democratic process within the Isle of Wight council. The Conservative cabinet can steam roll through any decision they like.

“There have already been questions asked as to why this review didn’t go to a public consultation as there are fundamental changes to the existing integrated risk management plan. The council seem to think putting some FAQs on its website, and releasing the paper six and a half days before the scrutiny committee meeting is a way to measure the feeling of the Isle of Wight public and council tax payer.

“The Isle of Wight Fire Service is at the cutting edge with its firefighting techniques, equipment and training. Cutting crews and firefighter numbers would hamper the use of some of these resources and the safety of firefighters.

“The Fire Brigades Union, the professional voice of firefighters on the Island and nationally, have the safety of the public and firefighters at the forefront of their opposition to this review”.

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