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Retained firefighters fear job losses

PUBLISHED: 10:58 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 30 June 2010

LONG serving firefighters at Gorleston could lose their homes if plans to restructure the fire service come to fruition, a crew member has warned.

Gorleston station watch manager Dean Howes described the likely human impact if the service proceeded with its plans to axe the 14 retained firefighters in High Road, as some of them rely on their part-time fire role to pay the mortgage.

LONG serving firefighters at Gorleston could lose their homes if plans to restructure the fire service come to fruition, a crew member has warned.

Gorleston station watch manager Dean Howes described the likely human impact if the service proceeded with its plans to axe the 14 retained firefighters in High Road, as some of them rely on their part-time fire role to pay the mortgage. He also warned public safety could be jeopardised.

The father-of-two, who will be among those made redundant, said: “The fire service has been life and my one trade so retraining is something I would have to consider in order to have some use. At the age of 50, I feel I am a little bit early to be on the scrapheap so I will be looking for some work.”

Mr Howes, 50, who used to be a full-time firefighter, said if there was a major blaze in the Yarmouth area, the first two fire engines with full-time crews would be able to get to the scene quickly.

However, the problem would arise if a third or fourth fire engine was needed as these were usually staffed by the retained crews from Gorleston, so crews would have to be called in from further afield, such as Martham, Loddon or Pakefield.

He could not understand why the service appeared to be reversing changes introduced in 1997. The current plans involve moving one of the full-time crews and fire engines from Yarmouth back to Gorleston to replace the axed retained firefighters, who report for duty only when called to an incident.

The fire service needs to save £1.5m between 2011 and 2014 and is planning to cut 63 jobs across Norfolk.

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright is to write to Norfolk Fire Service calling for the planned changes to be scrapped. He met Yarmouth firefighters last week and said: “In my opinion it is totally unacceptable and I can't understand the logic of what the fire service is planning. It will put many areas at risk by reducing the number of retained firefighters at Gorleston.

“What we don't do is cut front line staff, the people who are out there fighting the fires.”

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