Plymouth firefighters urge public to fight cuts
FIREFIGHTERS are renewing their plea to the public to fight potential cuts in the service.
The Crownhill branch of the Fire Brigades Union is urging the whole community to get involved in an ongoing consultation.
It says that if proposed cuts go through, only 19 whole time firefighters will be available in Plymouth.
The rest of the emergency cover would come from on-call teams.
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A spokesman for the union branch said: "Just one small incident could detain these 19 fire fighters.
"The rest of the city would then have to rely on an on call response which could be anything up to 20 minutes longer for the high reach aerial appliance – leaving people in medium to high rise buildings particularly vulnerable."
Government chiefs are proposing to cut life-saving teams at Plymstock, Plympton, Crownhill and Camels Head.
It means Plymstock and Plympton will be left with only retained crews.
Camels Head will lose one of its two full-time crews in favour of on-call fire fighters.
And the aerial ladder unit based at Crownhill will also be reduced to a retained service.
Crownhill will still have one full-time crew, as well as one other on-call team.
The actual fire engines will still remain in service.
The union rep added: "We cannot stress enough the effect these proposals could have on both public and firefighter safety.
"Lives and property could be at real risk and we ask the public to say no to frontline cuts."
The cuts are an attempt to fill a shortfall in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service budget.
Its funding will fall by £5.5 million over the next two years.
The proposals are among a range of potential cuts which have been part of a public consultation since January 18.
But the firefighters insist the figures aren't right.
The spokesman said: "The service has accrued £11.36 million from council tax payers in its general reserve fund.
"This could easily be used to cover the central government budget shortfall. This would give time for more sensible savings decisions to be made that do not involve frontline cuts."
At a meeting last month, Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell pointed out that Plymouth is the only area in Devon and Somerset which does not already operate with retained crews.
The public consultation is ongoing until April 19. Contact the Consultation Officer by phoning 01392 872354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org