Fire engine cut ‘may cost lives’
CONTROVERSIAL proposals to axe one of Bury fire station’s two daytime frontline engines could potentially cost lives, a union leader has warned.
The second tender is under threat as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) plan to change the way some of its fire stations are staffed to help make more than £20 million in savings.
If the proposal to strip Bury of one of its two pumps during daytime hours gets the go-ahead, it will also result in the loss of three posts at the Magdalene Road station, although fire chiefs stress there will be no compulsory redundancies. Up until 2005, Bury fire station operated two tenders 24 hours a day.
GMFRS say the latest measures are part of a four-year plan that has already seen more than £6 million in back office savings, senior officers reduced by 33 per cent and a reduction of 500 firefighter posts. Fire bosses say the savings are needed because GMFRS’ budget has been cut by 20 per cent since 2008/9.
The plans, which are part of an ongoing consultation, will see changes to the way engines are staffed – but there are no station closures. It comes as the latest incident data shows the number of fires in Greater Manchester has fallen by 21 per cent in the last year and 40 per cent over the last five years.
But the Fire Brigades Union has criticised the proposals. Greater Manchester FBU secretary Mr Gary Keary said: “We are totally against this latest round of cuts and we’re already at the bare bones. Further cuts could cost lives, to the public and firefighters.”
Although acknowledging GMFRS had received cuts in its budget, Mr Keary added: “The responsibility is on the organisation to provide the best fire cover to the people of Greater Manchester. We have serious concerns across the board.”
Fire chiefs say that if Bury’s second daytime pump is cut, it will remain at the station as a “strategic reserve” along with a special appliance and could be used if required. But Mr Keary said the pump would be parked up and there would be nobody to man it.
Cllr Alan Matthews, Bury’s representative on the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Nobody wants do this but we’ve got no option if we’re to save £20 million. Do we close stations or withdraw pumps? We are trying to keep every station open and as many jobs as we can.”
GMFRS County Fire Officer and Chief Executive Steve McGuirk said: “What we are proposing would have the least impact on the community.”
l To find out details about proposed changes in a particular area: go to manchesterfire.gov.uk/updates/station-resources-consultation-.aspx The consultation runs until Friday, September 20.
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