Firefighter rally as union says plans to cut jobs are “devastating”

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition against plans to cut 84 firefighter jobs.

Wednesday, 12th June 2019, 22:10 pm

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) said it collected 10,421 signatures in just one week against the draft proposals.

It presented the petition to full council after a rally outside the Town Hall with trade unionists speaking from on the top deck of a FBU fire engine.

Firefighters rally outside Sheffield Town Hall. Picture Scott Merrylees

South Yorkshire Fire Authority says it has cost pressures of up to £4 million and is consulting on two possible options:

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Whether to maintain the number of fire engines available 24/7 across the county, but reduce the number of firefighters on an engine from five to fourOr reduce the amount of fire engines available 24/7 across South Yorkshire, but keep five firefighters on each of them

Neil Carbutt, of the FBU, told full council that the proposals were “devastating”

“The people of Sheffield are angry that our service that they hold very dear is being cut to the bone and through it

“I want to make it absolutely clear from the outset who our members hold responsible for these proposed cuts – and that’s central government who have overseen this austerity agenda and inflicted it on our vital public services and communities.

“Since 2010 and beyond our service has seen dramatic reductions in government grant and our service’s spending power has been reduced.

“To put that cut into context we have only around 80 firefighters on duty at any one time on any given day. The draft proposals are frankly devastating.”

Coun Paul Wood, cabinet member for community safety, said there would be a new Prime Minister and new spending review in the autumn where MPs would lobby for a fair settlement.

He said: “The cuts to frontline firefighters in South Yorkshire has gone from a workforce of around 1,100 to – if these proposals are introduced – just over 500.

“Nationally, over 9,000 frontline staff have gone since 2010. No one believes this is not having a major impact on the fire service to deliver crucial areas of work not only in incident responses but also in fire prevention work.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson, said the public could give their views on the draft plans.

“We’d rather not make any changes at all, but to manage the service in a financially responsible way.

“We face cost pressures of up to £4 million and the extent of the savings required is inevitably going to mean changes to the way we provide our 999 service to the public.

“We think it is better to reduce the number of firefighters on a fire engine, than it is to slow down our response times to some of our communities by reducing the number of fire engines which are immediately available.”

The consultation is available here:

http://www.syfire.gov.uk/haveyoursay/