Fire union chiefs have called on brigade bosses to reverse their decision to take one of Bury fire station’s two daytime engines off the frontline.
One of the engines will be taken out of service from Monday as part of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) plans to find more than £20 million in savings.
Three staff at the town’s fire station in Magdalene Road have been moved and redeployed else-where, as part of changes to the way some fire stations are staffed.
Greater Manchester Fire Brigades Union (FBU) secretary Gary Keary said: “We have grave concerns about the loss of any fire appliances. The service that Greater Manchester pays for is for fire engines to be on the street and be available if needed.
“The union believes that the last place we should be making cuts is on the frontline. All other alternatives should be looked at.
“We will be raising our concerns and trying to make a campaign to bring this to the knowledge of the council and the people of Bury to see if we can put pressure on management for a reversal of this decision.”
Although fire chiefs say the second engine will remain at the station as a “strategic reserve” along with a special appliance, and could be used if required, Mr Keary said: “It will be parked up in a garage and nobody will be available to ride it.”
The loss of Bury’s second pump was one of a number of proposals which formed a GMFRS six-week consultation last year. A presentation was given to Bury Council and a stall set up in the town to get the views of the public.
GMFRS County Fire Officer and chief executive Steve McGuirk was given approval by the Fire Authority to make the decision on whether the changes should go ahead.
Fire chiefs 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 500 firefighter posts cut. They stress the savings are needed because GMFRS’ budget has been cut by 20 per cent since 2008/9.
They say the changes were based on statistics and risk — incident data shows that the number of fires continues to fall and has decreased by 40 per cent over the past five years.
Mr McGuirk said: “We have done detailed risk modelling which looks at historic data and what would happen if a certain resource changed. We launched a public consultation in August, 2013, and asked people to make other sensible suggestions that could save us £20 million. As no viable options were provided, the proposed changes are now being put into place.”
Cllr Alan Matthews, Bury Council’s representative on the fire authority, said: “The thing is that we haven’t got the money to reverse this decision, full stop. It could mean sacking people to reinstate the appliance. The Government is taking money from the fire authority the same as it’s taking it off councils.”
Up until 2005, Bury fire station operated two engines 24 hours a day.