Former fireman’s concerns over cuts

Lincs Fire and Rescue News.
Lincs Fire and Rescue News.
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A former fireman is urging residents to start a campaign to stop the proposed cuts to crew numbers and appliances at Oakham fire station.

David Baines was a firefighter in Suffolk for 10 years before leaving the service because of ill health.

Mr Baines, who lives in Kennedy Close, Oakham, said he was very concerned about proposals to remove the town’s second appliance, which is manned by retained crew, and reduce the number of firefighters on the first fire engine.

“I know, from experience, that four people on an appliance wouldn’t work: and what happens to the retained firefighters who man the second appliance?” he asked.

“I am disabled so I cannot do much but people should start a campaign to stop these cuts. They will affect public safety.”

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which also covers Rutland, has launched a public consultation on a number of proposed cuts - aimed at reducing a £7.6m funding gap over the next five years.

They include:

l Removing one of two fire engines from three stations - Oakham, Leicester city and Loughborough;

l Axing the resilience team who support on-call stations;

l Reducing the number of firefighters on an engine from five to four;

l Introducing day staff at Wigston fire station;

l A Support Staff Review which included axing 16 posts.

Mr Baines, who worked as an electrical and mechanical consultant after leaving the fire service, said: “It takes four people just to put the big ladder up. So, if you have to do a snatch rescue, by the time you got the ladder in place and the Breathing Apparatus crew turn up, someone will, probably, have lost their life.

“They also have to get the hose reel out and locate the water point. And if you have to wait for another appliance to arrive you have lost at least seven or eight precious minutes.

“I have been in situations where I have had to manage with just three people and had to wait for 15 or 20 minutes before another appliance arrived. It was totally unmanageable and we’ve lost acres of fields.”

As part of the consultation residents are being asked if they will pay more council tax toward the fire and rescue service.

Rutland and Melton parliamentary candidate, Dr James Moore attacked the “dangerous” cuts.

He told a constituency meeting of party members: “These cuts could leave Oakham and Uppingham areas dangerously exposed. We live in a large rural area with poor roads and it often takes a long time to get between locations.”

The Fire Brigades Union has already attacked the cuts saying it could mean the “difference between life and death” if someone was trapped in a building, for instance.

They are urging residents to get involved in the consultation by saying ‘No’ to the cuts, and ‘Yes’ to extra council tax, to avoid some of the cuts.

Dave Webb, chief fire officer, also urged residents to engage with the consultation process.

Both the FBU and the Fire Authority plan to lobby MPs to give the service more money to avoid the cuts.

The three-month consultation will start in the coming weeks and will last for three months. To register your views go to www.leicestershire-fire.gov.uk/irmp. Views can also be e-mailed to consultation@lfrs.org or sent by letter to IRMP Consultation, Information Management, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, 12 Geoff Monk Way, Birstall, Leicester, E4 3BU.