FIRE crews in Glenrothes have launched a campaign against further budget cuts to the service.
In the wake of cuts of 50 firefighters in the Kingdom, the administration at Fife Council is to make a further cut of £300,000.
Fife Fire and Rescue Service said this week that it already operates with 20 fewer fire fighters than the Chief Fire Officer recommends.
An Independent Audit Commission report raises serious concerns about Fife Fire and Rescue Service
Fife FBU is now calling for an increase in the number of fire fighters.
Scott McCabe, Brigade Secretary for Fife said: “We have been running this campaign in Fife for over two years; its main focus is reducing the risk to communities in Fife.
“We have been asking Fife Council if they have managed to strike the balance between budgets and community safety.
“Following a recent review of working patterns we now have 20 fire fighters less than the Chief Fire Officer recommends. We would ask Fife Council to reconsider its decision and invest in community safety for the people of Fife.”
Graeme Birtley, Brigade Chair for Fife said: “The amount of fire fighters we have in Fife should be based on the risk to communities and not just on budget constraints. This isn’t just about Fife Fire and Rescue Service, it’s about the Fire Service in Fife who are here to protect and serve their local communities.”
On the political front, Fife Labour councillors said they have made a commitment to increase the number of fire fighter in Fife by 20.
Former Fire Officer and FBU Secretary, Neil Crooks, now a Labour councillor, said: “It’s vital that SNP and Lib Dem councillors come to their senses and release the funds so desperately needed for a further twenty fire fighters before these cuts threaten public safety.”
Fife Labour leader Councillor Alex Rowley said: “Fife Labour group has made clear that these posts should not have been cut and we will reinstate the posts in office after May. But the people of Fife need action now.”
However, in response, Cllr George Kay, chair of the Police, Fire and Safety Committee, said: “In respect of the claim over fewer fire fighters than the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) recommendation, it is simply not the case. We are working with the CFO and his recommendations. These 20 firefighters have been lost through natural staff turnover and we have a recruitment programme already to replace 12 of these. If the CFO recommends we need the other eight then we will do that as well.”
Cllr Kay also pointed out that incidents requiring the turnout of fire crews had decreased over the last five years, for example, turnouts for road accidents had declined by 35 per cent in the region.