Worcestershire firefighters' union chief warns of deaths amid service cuts

Malvern Gazette: Cuts are on the cards for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service Cuts are on the cards for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service

LIVES will be lost if nearly £5 million of fire service cuts are forced through, a firefighter has warned.

Steven Gould, secretary of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) for Hereford and Worcester, said he is “deeply concerned” the cuts would leave the fire service ill-equipped to save lives and tackle major emergencies.

His comments come after chief fire officer Mark Yates admitted the £4.7 million cuts over the next three years would mean crews turning up late at 14 extra emergencies in Worcester every year.

While Mr Yates called any reduction ‘concerning’, he said he did not believe there would be an overly detrimental impact.

But Mr Gould, who is based in Evesham, said he believes the effect will be massively detrimental.

“We don’t believe a true view of how detrimental these cuts are has been given,” he warned.

“We believe that people will die in Herefordshire and Worcestershire who would not have done in the past be-cause of these cuts on such a massive scale.

“We are deeply concerned about it and we are lobbying as hard as we can to do something about it.

“We believe there are alternatives.

“We believe our management structure is overly heavy at the top and middle levels and that is not being looked at as closely as it should be.”

Proposals under consideration include reducing the number of fire engines on duty from 43 to 33.

But Mr Gould said 35 fire engines were called into action to tackle the devastating summer floods in 2007 and does not believe those levels are suitable for tackling an emergency like that, or the massive blaze earlier this year at Lawrence Re-cycling, in Kidderminster.

“Imagining that we will be able to rely on support from neighbouring authorities is a fallacy because they are under the same pressure as ourselves,” he said.

National government fire standards were scrapped in 2003, with each county asked to create its own.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s standards include the first fire engine getting to a call within 10 minutes 75 per cent of the time, and a second one arriving within the next five minutes.

Mr Yates has said the cuts, which include removing one full-time appliance in Worcester, would result in 14 calls – nine building blazes and five road crashes – getting a first fire engine after the 10-minute deadline.

Union members and supporters are planning to lobby against the cuts at a Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority meeting to be held tomorrow.

Comments (5)

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4:31pm Tue 10 Dec 13

reflector says...

The FBU is dead right. Hereford and Worcester is already one of the lowest funded Fire and Rescue Services and any more cuts must be resisted.

The effect of the proposals in the Wyre Forest District would be to reduce the level of fire cover there to what it was in 1938. The number of calls may well be down but when there is a major incident, surely it's vital that they can get resources there as quickly as possible and in sufficient numbers to deal with it before it gets out of hand.

I for one would be quite prepared to pay a bit more to maintain this service at a level which can sustain a safe environment. Surely our financial situation is not so dire that we have run these huge risks and just hope that everything will be all right. We are not a third world country and it's time we stopped behaving like one.
The FBU is dead right. Hereford and Worcester is already one of the lowest funded Fire and Rescue Services and any more cuts must be resisted. The effect of the proposals in the Wyre Forest District would be to reduce the level of fire cover there to what it was in 1938. The number of calls may well be down but when there is a major incident, surely it's vital that they can get resources there as quickly as possible and in sufficient numbers to deal with it before it gets out of hand. I for one would be quite prepared to pay a bit more to maintain this service at a level which can sustain a safe environment. Surely our financial situation is not so dire that we have run these huge risks and just hope that everything will be all right. We are not a third world country and it's time we stopped behaving like one. reflector

11:02pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Landy44 says...

Agree entierely with the comment above. This is one of the most critical services and cuts will increase the risk of failure.

That said, our financial situation IS "that dire" - no that's not actually correct - our financial situation is far more serious than "that dire" - if only the average person in the street knew just how dire it was, I suspect they would be terrified and more vocal. PLEASE take the time to research the state of our countries financial state using reliable impartial sources.
Agree entierely with the comment above. This is one of the most critical services and cuts will increase the risk of failure. That said, our financial situation IS "that dire" - no that's not actually correct - our financial situation is far more serious than "that dire" - if only the average person in the street knew just how dire it was, I suspect they would be terrified and more vocal. PLEASE take the time to research the state of our countries financial state using reliable impartial sources. Landy44

12:14am Wed 11 Dec 13

CJH says...

"reliable impartial sources" And there lies the problem - how to sort all the rubbish out which is on the internet, issued by government, denied by the opposition, re-written by the media...and posted on sites like this. It's a nightmare, especially when individuals already think they know the 'truth', and that their version is correct.
"reliable impartial sources" And there lies the problem - how to sort all the rubbish out which is on the internet, issued by government, denied by the opposition, re-written by the media...and posted on sites like this. It's a nightmare, especially when individuals already think they know the 'truth', and that their version is correct. CJH

4:10pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Landy44 says...

CJH wrote:
"reliable impartial sources" And there lies the problem - how to sort all the rubbish out which is on the internet, issued by government, denied by the opposition, re-written by the media...and posted on sites like this. It's a nightmare, especially when individuals already think they know the 'truth', and that their version is correct.
@CJH - I agree the sources are the problem but there is sufficient information out there that anyone who takes the time, has a dose of common sense, and is reasonably good at maths can work it out.

The only thing keeping this country (and many others) going is "confidence". It wouldn't take much for there to be a loss of confidence (rising interest rates would be a big challenge for us right now given the level of debt) and it will tip it over the edge. It WILL happen. I don't know when, but we are DEFINITELY in for a radical change of "life as we know it" at some point.
[quote][p][bold]CJH[/bold] wrote: "reliable impartial sources" And there lies the problem - how to sort all the rubbish out which is on the internet, issued by government, denied by the opposition, re-written by the media...and posted on sites like this. It's a nightmare, especially when individuals already think they know the 'truth', and that their version is correct.[/p][/quote]@CJH - I agree the sources are the problem but there is sufficient information out there that anyone who takes the time, has a dose of common sense, and is reasonably good at maths can work it out. The only thing keeping this country (and many others) going is "confidence". It wouldn't take much for there to be a loss of confidence (rising interest rates would be a big challenge for us right now given the level of debt) and it will tip it over the edge. It WILL happen. I don't know when, but we are DEFINITELY in for a radical change of "life as we know it" at some point. Landy44

4:25pm Wed 11 Dec 13

CJH says...

"...anyone who takes the time, has a dose of common sense..." If only they would, but they clutch on to the first piece of information which gives them the version of the 'truth' they personally want to believe in. If it suits their political or moral point of view that's it! It must be true. I don't know how we can overcome this. Personally I think this is the sort of thing which should be taught in schools (not as political indoctrination by whatever government is in power, but purely as a 'how to' guide to source the correct information, along with practical things you need to survive as an adult: how do you get a mortgage, how to balance your bank account, set a budget etc etc
"...anyone who takes the time, has a dose of common sense..." If only they would, but they clutch on to the first piece of information which gives them the version of the 'truth' they personally want to believe in. If it suits their political or moral point of view that's it! It must be true. I don't know how we can overcome this. Personally I think this is the sort of thing which should be taught in schools (not as political indoctrination by whatever government is in power, but purely as a 'how to' guide to source the correct information, along with practical things you need to survive as an adult: how do you get a mortgage, how to balance your bank account, set a budget etc etc CJH

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