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Jobs axe looms over East Sussex firefighters
Firefighters' jobs are on the line as a service struggles to balance the books.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has announced that it has “no option” but to cut the number of posts to try to make £1.9 million of savings in the next four years.
However a spokesman said it would not know how many firefighters would lose their jobs until July.
The Fire Brigades Union has warned that further redundancies would put lives at risk.
About 20 jobs are expected to go when East and West Sussex’s fire services merge control rooms next September.
But the fire service has now warned that further posts would have to be cut by March 2013, although it hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Des Prichard, chief fire officer and chief executive for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), said: “ESFRS has been undertaking a review of all its services over the last three years to help towards meeting progressive reductions in Government grant and recent council tax freezes.
“The prudent planning of the fire authority in recent years has helped mitigate some of the impact of the grant reductions. However, the fire authority has to deliver a balanced budget every year.
“At its meeting on June 7, East Sussex Fire Authority considered its future budget planning and reluctantly agreed that, despite making savings in a number of areas, it was now left with no option other than to reduce a number of posts by March 31, 2013, to fulfil the savings required.
“ESFRS will do all it can to support staff directly affected by any changes and the aim is to keep redundancies to an absolute minimum. Wherever possible, the authority will seek the reduction in posts through natural turnover, redeployment and retirement.”
Mark Brown, secretary of East Sussex Fire Brigades Union, said: “The FBU are wholly opposed to any cuts in establishment within East Sussex. Frontline posts have already been reduced due to cuts within East Sussex. Any further cuts to the already reduced establishment will put public lives at risk.
“Not only will any cuts to frontline services put the public at greater risk, it will also increase the risk to firefighters.”
Mr Pritchard insisted there would be “no drop in standards and safety will not be compromised, either for the public or for our firefighters”.