Gilchrist branded `irresponsible'

THE Fire Brigades Union has been accused of "total irresponsibility" and "frightening the people of Suffolk" by alleging that fire cover now depended on postcodes.

By Graham Dines

THE Fire Brigades Union has been accused of "total irresponsibility" and "frightening the people of Suffolk" by alleging that fire cover now depended on postcodes.

Andy Gilchrist, the Union's general secretary, made the remarks – quoted in yesterday's East Anglian Daily Times – during a rousing speech to the TUC's annual conference in Brighton on Wednesday.

He alleged the Government's proposals for fire service reform were a leap in the dark, ending national fire standards and putting nothing in their place.


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Mr Gilchrist said: "If these reforms go through, all our towns and cities will have their own standards and we will have fire cover by postcode.

"Where you live will influence your chances of being rescued in a fire."

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Labour's Kevan Lim told a meeting of Suffolk county council that the FBU bosses remarks were "totally irresponsible" and "unduly worrying"" for the people of Suffolk.

"We are attempting to give the best possible cover for the county of Suffolk instead of the artificial national standards."

Public protection portfolio holder Peter Monk accused Mr Gilchrist of shroud waving and frightening the public. "It is actually outrageous."

Mr Monk the East Anglia risk management plan, which included the Suffolk fire and rescue service, was looking at protecting people rather than property. "It is not a reduction in standards but an enhancement for the people of Suffolk and it is really important that we get this message across."

He said the FBU had refused to join in talks in the county on modernisation. This meant that local firefighters had no facility to know what action the county was taking "other than through a bit of megaphoning from a national leader."

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