Brixham Councillors unanimously reject all proposed cuts to Fire Service

Brixham Councillors unanimously reject all proposed cuts to Fire Service
Brixham Council recently voted unanimously to strongly reject all the options for proposed fire service cuts which would extend the time 9,800 people in Torbay would have to wait for a fire engine. Such a delay would also put lives at risk by exceeding the optimum time limit needed by medical staff to administer care. Chris Balcombe, Torbay Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and representative and Vice Chair FBU Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, told Brixham Councillors at the last Full Council meeting: “Firefighters condemn the proposals put forward by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service as dangerous, unnecessary and misleading.” He went on to explain that the cuts proposed will close several fire stations and remove some second and third fire engines, replacing them with “six-day crewed roving fire engines”. These and other cuts aim to achieve £8.2million savings, of which £5.4million would be from one-off savings from the sale of fire stations. Also, after earlier cuts, Torbay fire service had been running within and below budget, making any further cuts unnecessary. He added, “more than £38m of public money is locked in reserves. We urge the service to look again at what, if any savings are required. “The consultation paper is overbearing and asks the public to make decisions that they are not best placed to make, whilst giving them no option to vote to unlock some of the reserves to protect vital front-line resources and personnel. “If these cuts are realised, over 600,000 people across Devon and Somerset will wait longer for the arrival of a fire appliance. In Torbay alone more than 9,800 people will wait more than 10 minutes for a fire appliance to arrive at night,” he said. “Slower response times will lead to increased damage to properties; greater risk to firefighters attempting to deal with incidents with insufficient crew numbers and equipment; and loss of lives due to longer time frames to perform rescues from all types of emergencies.” (See FBU charts.) He reminded councillors that the figures quoted were for response to fires, whereas much of the brigade’s work was at traffic accidents, rescues from water and cliffs, for example. Brixham Councillors were shocked that such seemingly unnecessary cuts were being proposed and unanimously approved Councillor Mike Morey’s proposal: “That this Council having considered the current consultation being run by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service feels that the options proposed do not provide sufficient detail for the improvements claimed, particularly information on how the on-call system would be improved, how extra prevention and protection will be achieved, or how much would actually be re-invested into the service.” “It fails to recognise the excellent work firefighters already do to prevent injuries, building damage and environmental damage, and to respond to all types of incidents.” “This Council feels that the data given in the consultation is flawed and has an unachievable expectation, in that there is an assumption made that after the cuts, all assets will be available at all times, giving the false impression that the risk of fire deaths will reduce if the proposals are agreed, whereas statistically it is likely that the risk would increase.” “The revised attendance times make no reference to properties that may be disadvantaged by the proposed changes.” “It should also be noted that if the proposals were to be adopted, around a third of the residents of Devon and Somerset, over 600,000 people, will see a slower response from the Fire and Rescue Service. The quality standards of our excellent fire service will be negatively compromised by the impact of these proposals on the recruitment and retention of quality fire fighters which detrimentally impacts on the ability to meet the fire services optimum response times to ensure safer communities, and the ability to meet recommended optimum medical times to save lives.” “As such this Council calls upon Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service authority members to reject in full the options proposed.” Councillor Morey stated at the meeting: “When I was out with firefighters collecting signatures a couple of weeks ago in Fore Street, Brixham, the response was incredible. I did not have one person refuse to sign.” “After all my years campaigning on various issues I have never known a response like it.” “After all the major fires we have seen in Torbay recently, it is total madness to cut fire cover even further. These proposals are dangerous and potentially disastrous.”

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