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Firefighters strike over cuts that ‘could endanger public’

PUBLISHED: 09:51 02 July 2012

fire strike -  picket line at Brentwood fire station

fire strike - picket line at Brentwood fire station

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»Brentwood firefighters went on strike on Thursday in a dispute over service cuts.

It was the first of five days of action proposed by Fire Brigades Union members.

Union chiefs say Essex will have lost one in five frontline firefighters since 2008 if planned cuts go ahead.

Alan Chinn-Shaw, from the FBU, said this is a loss of about 165 firefighters.

He added: “They [Essex Fire and Rescue] are in the process of downgrading on Brentwood’s fire engines.

“There used to be three fire engines for Brentwood and Ongar. Now there will be one and two retained engines, but there’s not been a cut in the budget.

“It will be increasing the risk for members and the public by doing this.

“Firefighters can respond within a minute if they are at the station, but retained firefighters can take about eight minutes as they are only called when needed.

“It is a very serious issue for the public and will put the firefighters at risk also as the fire will have longer to develop before they get there.”

Shortages

Further industrial action is planned on July 7 and 18, August 18 and October 18.

Essex Fire and Rescue said it is prepared for the action. “More than 100 Essex firefighters have signed up to resilience contracts guaranteeing their availability during times of severe staff shortages.

“Added to that are dozens of retained crews determined to continue to provide life-saving cover to their local communities.

“The service has a responsibility to ensure the safety of our communities and that is a responsibility we take seriously and one we are not prepared to leave to chance with the threat of strike action looming.”

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