Firefighters have claimed an ecstatic victory in their fight against cuts to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (SYFRS).
After a successful and hard-fought campaign from Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members, the fire authority resoundingly voted to shelve the proposed plans to reduce the number of firefighters riding a fire engine from five to four, which would have seen 84 firefighter posts cut. Instead, the fire authority agreed to use its reserves to maintain safe crewing levels while lobbying central government for investment in the service.
The decision came after extensive campaigning from the FBU calling for the fire authority to halt the cuts, including a lobby in Parliament and sustained lobbying of the fire authority. A rally outside of Sheffield town hall in June saw 200 firefighters protesting against the proposals. Around 10,000 people signed a public petition backing the FBU’s campaign against the cuts.
Councillor Tony Damms, vice chair of the fire authority, tabled the motion to use the authority’s reserves while the fire authority campaign for fairer funding from Westminster. Central government funding for the service has been cut by £3.4M since 2016/17, despite a 16% increase in firefighter rescues from 2017 to 2018.
Neil Carbutt, FBU South Yorkshire brigade secretary, said:
“We’re ecstatic that the Fire Authority has rejected these unacceptable cuts. South Yorkshire firefighters are committed to keeping the public safe, and these proposals would have seriously undermined our ability to do so.
“SYFRS has been consistently underfunded by central government. It is positive that the fire authority has decided to halt the cuts, but we need fairer funding for our service. The fire authority must go to the government and demand adequate funding so that we can provide a safe service to local communities.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to members of the public and the Labour and trade union movement for their unwavering support. It’s thanks to them, and the hard work of FBU members that we’ve been able to win our campaign and continue to keep South Yorkshire safe.”