Latest information on Shropshire Fire Service cuts
Shropshire’s fire chief has made a public appeal for people to take extra care to prevent fires and accidents as the economic axe prepares to fall on the county’s fire and rescue service.
“Front line” firefighter services will not be compromised, promised Paul Raymond adding that fire engines and firefighters will get to incidents “as they always have done.”
But it will be a much “leaner” service only delivering essential services with a forecast £3 million cut in the £22 million budget over the next four years.
“Even with this level of cuts we should still get well maintained fire engines to you along with well trained firefighters to deal with whatever emergency we face. But I am asking the community to take positive steps to prevent incidents to help keep costs down.
“If the cuts are deeper or costs rise we will need to take a different approach so I ask everyone to help us to prevent fires and accidents occurring.”
A pay freeze, recruitment halt and even stricter spending guidelines were introduced by the Service at the beginning of 2010 for the 550 firefighters and 50 support staff who work to provide fire and rescue cover throughout the county.
A total of 60 firefighters, officers and support staff, due to leave over the next four years may not be replaced for the foreseeable future if the level of cuts are confirmed in October, the Chief Fire Officer announced.
“All of us in the Service will have to work harder for less money in real terms. As a public service, funded by the taxpayer, we have always strived to keep costs down while providing a first class service.
“We cost the average local family about £1.57 per week for 24/7 emergency cover and all our prevention work. We will continue to do our utmost but sadly the predicted cuts will have an effect on our fire and accident prevention work across the area,” said Mr Raymond.
He vowed that diminishing resources would be focused on emergency response and on fire prevention help for the elderly and those most at risk with those families who are able now being advised to fit and maintain their own smoke alarms instead of calling on the fire service for help.
A successful 10 year campaign by the fire service to install smoke alarms has led to a sharp fall in Shropshire house fires with fewer fire victims.
Shropshire has one of the smallest and most poorly funded fire and rescue Authorities in the UK but with a record for being one of the best performing brigades. The Shropshire service receives a grant of £17 per head of population for its fire service compared with £30 in the West Midlands.
There are fire control operators based at the Shrewsbury fire HQ who take emergency calls 24/7 along with support staff essential to keep the service operating. They include an ICT team, administration; HR and finance staff and technical services crews who maintain fire appliances and essential fire fighting equipment. A training school also operates from Telford Fire Station, one of 23 stations across Shropshire serving a mainly rural population approaching half a million.
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