Proposed cuts to services will put firefighters and public in danger, says Grantham union official

Chairman of Lincolnshire Fire Brigade Union Ben Selby at Grantham fire station. Photo: 0290A EMN-141230-093527001
Chairman of Lincolnshire Fire Brigade Union Ben Selby at Grantham fire station. Photo: 0290A EMN-141230-093527001

A Fire Brigades Union chief from Grantham says proposed cuts to the service will put the lives of members of the public and firefighters at risk.

Ben Selby, chairman of the Lincolnshire FBU, who lives in Grantham, said fire service staff levels are already down to the bare bones and further cuts would present a danger to the public and firefighters in emergency situations.

Mr Selby said it was vital that people take part in the public consultation which is happening now before any decision is made by the county council.

Mr Selby said: “The council must consult with the public before any changes can be made to the service delivery, and we are saying that these proposed changes are a step too far and put the lives of members and the public in danger.”

He added that further cuts to the county’s service would increase response times. He said that at the moment, response times are around one minute from taking the call to leaving the fire station, but that these cuts will increase the response time to as much as four or five minutes.

Firefighters held a protest in Lincoln on Saturday for more than two hours and collected 1,000 signatures in support against cuts.

People can sign a petition against cuts at Change.org Search for ‘Lincolnshire fire cuts’ on the website. They can also leave feedback on the Lincolnshire County Council website.

Mr Selby said: “The more feedback we get from the public, the more likely this will be reversed.”

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has to save £1.23m as part of county council plans to reduce its budget by £90m over the next five years.

Dave Ramscar, chief fire officer for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Obviously any reduction to the fire service is regrettable. However, we are confident that the proposals being consulted on allow us to achieve the required savings while having the least impact on the overall level of service provided.

“Despite considerable strain on local authority budgets in recent years, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has been able to deliver significant improvements to its capability across the county. Since 2010, we have increased the number of fire engines crewed by whole time firefighters on a 24 hour basis from two to nine, and on average our on-call firefighters across the county train for an extra hour each week.

“During this time there has been no reduction in the number of fire engines or fire stations and we have been able to make significant investments in new appliances and equipment, to allow our firefighters to continue to deliver a first class fire and rescue service for Lincolnshire.”