Cuts to South Yorkshire firefighter jobs shelved - for now

Plans to reduce the number of firefighters in South Yorkshire have been shelved – saving 84 posts – for now.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 8:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 3:11 pm
Firefighters in action in South Yorkshire (Pic: SYFRS)

Fire chiefs suggested reducing the number of firefighters working on engines from five to four in a bid to save £4 million a year but its governing body – South Yorkshire Fire Authority – rejected the proposal for now.

Members voted against the cost cutting plan but warned that if no other viable alternative is found to save the annual cash shortfall, the plan to reduce firefighter numbers on engines will be implemented in 2020/21.

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Firefighters in action in South Yorkshire (Pic: SYFRS)

Central government funding for the service has been cut by £3.4 million a year since 2016/17.

The fire authority urged fire service bosses to spend the rest of the financial year exploring alternative methods of saving the cash – and suggested recruiting extra firefighters to reduce the amount of money currently spent on overtime.

Fire service cash reserves will be used to plug the funding gap while the Government is lobbied for investment in the fire service.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “We’ve already described the savings we’ve made to protect our frontline service and we will continue to explore further options, as directed by members.

“However, whilst we would rather not make any changes to our frontline service at all, we’re pleased that the fire authority has acknowledged that riding with four firefighters on a fire engine remains a viable solution should we be required to implement it.”

A rally outside Sheffield town hall in June saw 200 firefighters protesting against the proposals.

And around 10,000 people signed a public petition backing the Fire Brigade Union’s campaign against the cuts.

Neil Carbutt, the FBU brigade secretary in South Yorkshire, said:“We’re ecstatic that the fire authority has rejected these unacceptable cuts. “South Yorkshire firefighters are committed to keeping the public safe, and these proposals would have seriously undermined our ability to do so.

“South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been consistently underfunded by central government. It is positive that the fire authority has decided to halt the cuts, but we need fairer funding for our service.

“The fire authority must go to the government and demand adequate funding so that we can provide a safe service to local communities.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to members of the public and the Labour and trade union movement for their unwavering support. It’s thanks to them, and the hard work of FBU members that we’ve been able to win our campaign and continue to keep South Yorkshire safe.”