Opinion Former Video

Cuts undermine the fire and rescue service

This animation, from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), calls for an end to cuts in funding for the fire and rescue service.

Script

Firefighters provide a 24 hour, seven days a week all hazard emergency service.

Sustained government cuts threaten their ability to provide lifesaving emergency response.

In October 2015, cover in London was so stretched dealing with a major fire on Finchley Road that when a fire broke out at a property on Camden Road it took 13 minutes for the first engine to arrive. A pensioner jumped from a window to his death.

In March 2016, an elderly couple died in Merseyside. Five fire engines were already deployed at a factory fire in Birkenhead which meant that an adequate safe response couldn’t reach them in time.

This government wants to cut its funding to the fire and rescue service by 20% in this parliament.

In the last parliament it cut it by 30%.

Since 2010, 7000 firefighter jobs have gone, over 40 stations have closed and scores of fire engines have been taken out of service.

Downward trends in fires and fire deaths are being used to justify these cuts, but this does not tell the whole story.

The decline is largely a result of the youth and community education schemes that firefighters have pioneered. This shows how effective the service is.

It could be disingenuous to decimate the active forces that have catalysed these changes.

Keeping our communities safe is about tackling every risk we face. Cuts are undermining the service’s ability to do that.  

Stations, fire engines and the minimum number of firefighters crewing a fire engine are all being reduced. This impacts on how quickly firefighters can reach you in an emergency and how effective that response is.

999 response times are at a 20 year high - and in a life or death situation, every second counts.

Appliances without enough firefighters have to wait for back-up before they can perform safe and efficient rescues. That delay could have fatal consequences.  

Emergency response is being compromised by financial constraints.

The risks in our communities are not disappearing, they are merely evolving. Firefighters are ready for their role to evolve to combat these risks.

Adequate funding, equipment and training is needed to do this. Sustained budget cuts have to stop.

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