Fire union fears massive brigade cuts in Essex under reform programme

ECFRS to launch five-year change programme.

ECFRS to launch five-year change programme. - Credit: Archant

More than 180 firefighters could be set for the axe in Essex, union chiefs fear.

The Essex branch of the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) is concerned at the level of cuts which could be made by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS).

The brigade has announced a five-year reform scheme, the 2020 Programme.

No details have yet been released, with consultation on specifics set to begin later this year.

But a report setting out the context for change says between 2004-2014 the number of incidents attended fell by 50%, down to an average of 38 per day last year – of which only 23 required action, with the others false alarms or crews acting in a stand-by capacity.

The programme may also deliver savings, with ECFRS anticipating losing up to £15million in government funding by 2020.

Riccardo La Torre, chairman of the Essex FBU branch, said: “We are keeping a very close eye on this, and we hope they approach us for full, meaningful negotiations about any changes.

Most Read

“We have complete sympathy for the financial challenge that exists, but we hope they approach the future years differently to how they do now. So far where they have presented areas for change we have compromised and helped to make those savings, but they have still tried to force members out of jobs.

“The last figures we were told we were losing 179 firefighters. We now believe that to be more.

“We also think there has been a disingenuous use of the statistics. If you are trapped in a burning house you are not interested in the false alarm call-outs, you still want a speedy response.”

An ECFRS spokesman said: “The aim is to provide important information to develop understanding so the public can respond in an informed and meaningful way as we bring our ideas and plans for consultation over the coming months.

“We are keen the public understands the context, what the future may hold and how we plan to develop a different focus to make our organisation fit for the future and strong to face the upcoming challenges.”

To have your say on the 2020 Programme call 01376 570814, go to www.essex-fire.gov.uk or email mailbox.2020@essex-fire.gov.uk. You can also use social media on the ECFRS Facebook page or on Twitter with the hashtag #TELLECFRS, or write to: 2020 Programme Office, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Service Headquarters, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, CM8 3HB.