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18 September 2019
Plans to cut firefighter crew numbers in South Yorkshire have been shelved until 2020-2021 by the local fire authority to allow the service more time to explore alternative options.
The proposed cuts would have seen a drop from five to four crew members per appliance and an overall cut of 84 firefighter posts in the area, saving the service around £4million a year.
James Courtney, chief fire officer, said: "We've already described the savings we've made to protect our frontline service and we will continue to explore further options, as directed by (authority) members.
"However, whilst we would rather not make any changes to our frontline service at all, we're pleased that the fire authority has acknowledged that riding with four firefighters on a fire engine remains a viable solution should we be required to implement it."
Neil Carbutt, South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) secretary, said: "It's a significant victory to be able to lobby for a year and look at other proposals.
"After a successful and hard-fought campaign from 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 fire authority must go to the government and demand adequate funding so that we can provide a safe service to local communities."
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.