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Firefighters' union fights cuts

PUBLISHED: 13:08 16 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 September 2010

THE union representing Norfolk's retained firefighters has voiced its opposition to proposed cuts and put forward alternative measures.

Norfolk fire and rescue service's consultation over cuts of more than £1m closed officially last night and the results will be considered by a scrutiny panel next month.

THE union representing Norfolk's retained firefighters has voiced its opposition to proposed cuts and put forward alternative measures.

Norfolk fire and rescue service's consultation over cuts of more than £1m closed officially last night and the results will be considered by a scrutiny panel next month. Norfolk County Council's full cabinet is expected to reach a final decision in October.

Proposals include reducing the number of fire engines in Norwich from four full-time and one part-time to a total of three; opening a new fire station covering King's Lynn and nearby villages; and scrapping two retained appliances currently in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston in favour of dividing the existing two full-time engines between each town.

The Retained Firefighters Union (RFU) has now published its response to the draft plan, which raises a number of concerns over the proposals to remove frontline appliances and reduce the number of firefighters in the country.

Neil Harvey, from the union, said: “Unfortunately the figures within the proposals simply do not add up and, rather than save money, it would appear that costs will unnecessarily increase.

“The proposals aim to reduce the number of retained firefighters by up to 26, in addition to about 24 full-time firefighter posts being lost. The draft plan also looks to totally remove two frontline appliances and replace three more with alternative vehicles that are unable to respond to primary fires and carry less crew. There is no doubt that should these proposals go ahead, the changes will increase the risk across the county and the level of resilience provided by the fire service will also deteriorate.”

The RFU's alternative proposals include basing a fire engine on or near the A47 near King's Lynn at peak times.

Mike McCarthy, deputy chief fire officer for Norfolk, said: “We welcome the response from the RFU as we have welcomed the nearly 300 received during our 12-week consultation. During that time we have sought to gather the views of a wide range of people and organisations in Norfolk and beyond, including crucially, our own staff and their representative bodies. We opened up a number of channels for feedback and travelled across the county answering questions and explaining the draft plan. Nearly 200 people came through the doors at our public consultation events alone and we thank them for thier interest. We are now collating all the responses ready to bring a report back to county councillors in September.”


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