Updated: Essex fire appliances kept in secret locations

Fire appliances in Essex have been fitted with security cameras and based away from stations to protect staff working through a strike over cuts.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service chief David Johnson moved to reassure the public that a contingency plan was in place to protect the public.

He was speaking as Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members began the first of five planned strikes.

The union said the county will have lost one in five firefighters since 2008 if planned cuts go ahead.

In a press conference held this morning he said: “Fire appliances will be based at strategic locations across the county, which will not be disclosed, to prevent confrontations at stations and to prevent appliances being delayed.

“We have also fitted security cameras to our appliances in case of any confrontations.”

More than 100 firefighters are expected to work with 30-40 out of 70 appliances still operating.

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Mr Johnson added that although firefighter numbers are falling, the number of appliances in Essex has increased and the introduction of new working practices means firefighters are being used more efficiently.

Further strikes have been scheduled for July 7 and 8, August 18 and October 18.

The strike comes after bosses at Essex County Fire and Rescue (ECFRS) and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) failed to come to an agreement after 11th-hour talks collapsed on Monday.

FBU General Secretary Mick Rogers said: “I think after three years of trying to talk and resolve the issues it’s quite clear that management has no intention of listening to the voices of professional fire fighters who are doing the job day in, day out.

“They know the effects the cuts are having on the front line. Everything looks great on paper but not in practice.

“It’s taking up to 28 minutes for second appliances to reach incidents.”