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Firefighters warn proposed cuts will put "lives at risk"
Firefighters are warning that cutting 80 jobs across East Sussex will put “lives at risk”.
The East Sussex Fire Brigades Union (ESFBU) is against plans by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to reduce the number of workers and fire engines.
Simon Herbert, chairman of ESFBU, said: “It is a shame that it would appear that chief fire officers and their highly-paid managers are content to cut fire cover and put public lives at risk due to budget reduction rather than stand up to Westminster officials and state they cannot run their fire and rescue services safely with such budget reductions.
"As a result of this we are seeing the fire service cut to shreds up and down the country.”
The cuts are being proposed as part of £7.1 million of savings over five years.
The proposals in East Sussex include the removal of a fire engine from either Preston Circus or Hove fire station, the introduction of ‘day crewed plus’ stations at Battle and Roedean fire stations and the removal of a fire engine from The Ridge station in Hastings.
It is standard operating procedure for the fire service to attend a high-rise fire with four pumping vehicles and a ladder engine.
Should the cuts go through, Brighton would only have four pumps.
Mr Herbert added: “Even with a reduced number of callouts you still need the same number of firefighters to attend each call and to deal with the incident.
“Should the proposed cuts go through a fire at a high-rise building would end up being attended by every fire appliance in the city.”
The service currently has the equivalent of 860 full time employees and 24 fire stations.
Mark Brown, the East Sussex union secretary, said “Attendance times have already risen over the last few years and these proposals will further increase the time that members of the public will have to wait should they need rescuing from fire or being cut free from a road traffic collision.”
The service is due to meet on February 14 to set its budget.
Between 2002/03 and 2012/13 the number of callouts attended by ESFR fell by 37%, believed to be due to preventative projects.
A spokesman for ESFR said: “If fully implemented these proposals would mean a potential reduction in posts of between 50 and 80 over a five year period.
"There would be redeployment opportunities and natural wastage which we hope would reduce any need for redundancies.”
Des Prichard, chief fire officer and chief executive of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said the service will be able to maintain its standards despite the cuts.
He said the service will try to make the cuts with as few redundancies as possible.
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