Fire services are in ‘meltdown’ warns union

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VITAL frontline fire services are being eroded to the point of risking lives.

That’s the warning from the firefighters’ union FBU after learning Fife Fire and Rescue’s £20 million budget is to be cut by 16 per cent over the next four years.

Graeme Birtley, chair FBU Fife said: “The service’s senior officers are being asked to do the impossible, the risk to the people of Fife has not changed yet we understand that station closures, reductions in firefighter numbers and downgrading of fire cover are all being considered simply to make financial savings with no consideration of the risk to the public or measurable professional judgement.”

According to the union, budget cuts since 2005 already mean Fife does not employ enough firefighters to staff all apliances.

Moreover, firefighters have been removed from frontline services to carry out administrative work.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the FBU has revealed Fife has lost 27 full time posts from a workforce of 388 in just over a year.

The loss has been attributed to personnel retirement, people leaving and recruitment freezes.

Roddy Robertson, executive council member FBU Scotland, commented: “What is currently happening in Fife Fire and Rescue Service shows why there is a need for reform of the service and why the service needs that reform to happen now not later.

“We have been given public assurances that the front line will not be touched yet we have seen the loss of nearly 300 firefighters’ posts across Scotland in the last two years and now we are facing meltdown in our vital services, this can not be allowed to continue.”

Fife Fire and Rescue services are to be cut back by four per cent per annum over the next four years.

Mr Birtley added: “These figures also show, compared to other FRS’s in Scotland, we will be making the second largest cut to our budget despite significant cuts over the last five years.”