Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 19:24 UK

Fire authority will axe 80 posts

Firefighters on Merseyside have been hit by job cuts - with 80 posts set to be axed over the next three years.

The Fire Authority passed the proposals at a meeting on Thursday as it tries to meet a £5m budget deficit it says is caused by lower Government grants.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned the plans, saying there is already a "chronic shortage of staff".

But Mike Hagen, deputy chief fire officer, said there would be "no effect" on emergency response times".

Les Skarrats, FBU secretary, claimed the cuts would have a "devastating effect" on the service provided to the people of Merseyside.

"The safety of our crews and the safety of the public will be put at risk.

Our crews have a moral dilemma, we could be going to burning buildings knowing we have to go inside but knowing there is no back-up
Mark Dunne, FBU chairman

"It's unnecessary to cut fire service jobs, the authority has saved £20m in the past four years - that should be more than enough.

"We don't need to axe posts, but instead to increase them. Fire engines are sat in stations idle because there are no firefighters to run them."

Mark Dunne, FBU chairman, said: "We will have to consult our members about this and decide what we are going to do next.

"Our crews have a moral dilemma, we could be going to burning buildings, knowing we have to go inside but knowing there is no back-up.

"I know our crews and I know we will do that but it is not safe for the public or the crews."

There will be no compulsory redundancies, deputy chief officer Mike Hagan, has confirmed.

The 80 posts will not be filled as people leave the service, while a further 36 jobs would be switched to non-uniform roles.

Mr Hagen said: "The changes will have no effect on our emergency response times which are some of the fastest in the country.

"We have been highly successful in the last decade in significantly reducing the number of fires and fire related deaths and injuries and this work will continue."



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