One in six of Brighton and Hove’s firefighter positions will be axed now that cost-saving proposals have been approved.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has announced plans to cut 24 full-time posts across the city and remove a fire engine from either Hove or Preston Park fire stations.
The proposals were approved on the same day that firefighters in Sussex announced they would be striking for 24 hours – the longest period of strike action taken yet – against Government changes to pensions.
At the crunch meeting, held at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service headquarters, ten fire authority members voted to remove the fire engine with eight voting against.
A total of 12 members voted in favour of losing the full-time posts and six voted against.
Those who campaigned against the plans have described them as “putting the lives of the firefighters and the public at risk”.
The proposals will also mean one fire engine and 12 retained firefighter posts will be lost from The Ridge in Hastings.
Des Prichard, chief fire officer for East Sussex and Brighton and Hove, said: “I’m not happy with the changes because we’ve lost firefighters and no one is happy about the fire appliance leaving, but cuts are inevitable.
“We had a goal of keeping 24 fire stations open before the meeting and after the meeting we still have 24 fire stations open.”
But Jim Parrott, executive member of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “We oppose these cuts because they will endanger the lives of firefighters and the general public.”
Nancy Platts, parliamentary candidate for Labour in Kemp Town and Peacehaven, said: “This is a terrible decision and I cannot believe the voicesof residents have been ignored.
“There are other money saving options and I urge a rethink before it’s too late.”
A motion was put forward to review the public consultation, which received just 665 responses, after it was criticised by members of the panel for failing to reach members of the public.
A vote on the motion was tied, but a casting vote from Phil Howson, chairman of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, meant it was denied.
Three petitions were put forward at the meeting, arguing against the removal of the fire engine.
Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn, Brighton and Hove Conservative member for Wish ward, pointed out during the meeting that according to the consultation, only 50 people in Brighton and East Sussex strongly agreed with removing the fire engine from the city.
There will now be a further consultation on the proposals with staff and representative bodies.