FBU challenges "complete lunacy" of cuts in fire and rescue threatened in CSR
Published on 15 October 2010
The Fire Brigades Union has condemned the government’s cuts agenda in its submission to the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review – and challenged Chief Fire Officers to speak out for investment to keep the public safe.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, calls on Chief Fire Officers to join the Union in opposing Coalition government plans to slash between 25 and 40 per cent from public service budgets. Instead of “rushing to plan and implement cuts”, fire chiefs and fire politicians should be joining firefighters in “making the case for investment in our service”.
His call comes in the introduction to "A Service to be proud of", the FBU’s submission to the forthcoming spending review.
“The fire and rescue service is an outstanding public service with high levels of public support. The FBU does not accept there is room for cuts in our service. Talk of cuts in the order of 25 per cent is complete lunacy – a modern, efficient and professional service simply could not be delivered on such a basis.”
“Sadly, there are many in positions of authority within local fire services who have simply accepted the argument about cuts and resigned themselves to the idea that nothing can be done. The FBU cannot afford such an approach. These issues are too important for us to surrender without a fight.”
The union’s robust defence of the service makes the case for continued investment as the service prepares for new challenges posed by climate change – including more floods, grassland fires, drought and storms, as well as major chemical spillages and possible terrorist attacks.
It documents high levels of public satisfaction with fire and rescue. Ninety-three per cent of those interviewed recently by YouGov were satisfied with the service, with 85 per cent opposed to cuts in budgets and 95 per cent wanting to see firefighter numbers maintained. These figures show the government has no mandate for fire service cuts.
Government efficiency targets have been met and exceeded, more rescues were carried out last year than a decade ago. There are now fewer fires, fewer fire deaths and more fire rescues.
“It is a lean, refined service. There is no bloat- no fat to cull. Firefighters have increased their productivity in recent decades- we now do much more with fewer personnel”.
“The FBU, as the voice of firefighters, will fight tooth and nail against the cuts agenda. Our concern is for our profession, for the safety of the public and for the safety of firefighters. We pledge to defend them by every possible means.”
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