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09 April 2015
More cuts to fire services are on the way as local councils in Lincolnshire and Leicester gave the green light to axe budgets this week.
In Lincolnshire, £650,000, representing half of the service’s annual budget, will be cut in the form of changes to Lincolnshire Fire & Resuce’s management structure, fire control and support staff.
The number of firefighters on each crew will be reduced from five to four, a move which could “endanger lives of Lincolnshire residents”, according to Lincolnshire Fire Brigades Union chair, Ben Selby.
The changes also include cutting overnight cover at Lincoln North fire station where firefighters will be on call instead of based at the station.
There has been strong opposition to the cuts, with a group called Defend our Fire Services gathering 1500 signatures from local residents in support of preserving fire services.
The group was also present at a demonstration, led by the Lincolnshire FBU, outside of the council headquarters.
Elaine Smith, a spokesperson at Defend our Fire Services, said: “These cuts to our fire service are not only wrong but they're dangerous.
"Our campaign has received widespread publicity and it has proven virtually impossible to track down anyone out there who actually supports these proposed cuts."
Lincolnshire County Council is under pressure to cut costs by £90 million by 2018/19 as part of its Integrated Risk Management Plan.
Council leader and executive chairman, Councillor Martin Hill said: "We need to remember that this is taking place in the context that this council has to make £200 million-plus savings.
"So it's better to have a fire engine arrive with only three crew than no fire engine at all."
Meanwhile, in Leicestershire as much as £745,000 will be cut from Leicester Fire Service’s budget.
17 full-time firefighters and 12 on-call firefighters will lose their jobs as a result of the cuts. Crews will be reduced from five to four, and one fire engine from the Oakham station will be removed to save £97,150 annually. The remaining fire engine at Oakham will remain staffed by five firefighters.
The FBU has also heavily criticised these cuts. Spokesman, Graham Vaux, said: "This is the most dangerous decision the fire authority has made to date.
"We are very concerned about redundancies as we may be the first fire service in the country to make compulsory redundancies.”
Conservative councillor, Chirstine Radford, said: "We will have to make some serious decisions or we will have to close fire stations and take fire engines off the road in the future."
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.