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Proposal to cut down on firefighter jobs in Cumbria unwelcome in the industry

Move to cut down firefighter numbers in Cumbria faces opposition
If the proposal is accepted, the county will face a major shortage of firefighters when need arises

Cumbria firefighters will take longer to get to traffic accidents involving heavy goods vehicles, and at times will be unable to handle water rescues, if the Cumbria Fire Service carries out its plan to cut down the crewing of sophisticated rescue equipment.

Cumbria FRS proposes to get rid of eight firefighter jobs, which will leave insufficient firefighters to crew the county’s Major Rescue Vehicle (MRV) and the Aerial Ladder Platforms (ALPs) at Barrow and Carlisle fire stations when all the pumps are in use.

Both ALPs were recently bought at a cost of £400,000 each. It needs two specially trained firefighters to operate each ALP. If both pumps at their respective stations (Carlisle and Barrow) are committed to an incident, then the ALP will be unusable.

The MRV turns out to road traffic collisions involving Heavy Goods Vehicles, as well as to large animal rescues and water rescues. It carries the swift water rescue equipment, including the inflatable boat and outboard engine. If the two pumps and the ALP are at an incident, then there is no water rescue capability available.

This will seriously increase turnout times. During the floods in Cumbria last year and in 2005, firefighters were praised for their efforts, but the Fire Brigades Union warned today that they will not be able to provide the same level of service if these cuts go through.

Cumbria FBU Brigade Secretary Mally Hind said: "This ill thought out proposal is based purely on cost and not on risk. Cumbrian taxpayers deserve a better service than this. It's not that many weeks ago that the new Prime Minister David Cameron said that there would be no cuts to front line services. During the run up to the election he even visited Carlisle fire station and promised us the same thing, yet here we are looking at the loss of eight front line firefighter posts. If this proposal is allowed to go ahead, there will be a detrimental effect on public safety. I hope elected Councillors will intervene before it's too late."

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