Staffing cuts at two Sunderland fire stations will put lives at risk, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned.
Tyne and Wear Fire Authority will vote next month on plans to reduce the number of firefighters at stations with only one engine from five, to four, but the union says a crew of four is unable to provide the full range of firefighting tactics a crew of five can.
The union says firefighters will be asked to undertake working practices on a daily basis which national guidance stipulates is for exceptional circumstances only.
FBU Tyne and Wear secretary Russ King said: “These proposals will put lives at risk. Crews will be under immense moral pressure to either act before appropriate resources are available or wait for sufficient backup. This proposal is not linked to any change in risk. It is a purely financially driven decision.”
“Having only four firefighters will place crews and the public at an intolerable risk of serious harm or possibly worse. The fire authority should reject this unacceptable, dangerous proposal immediately”.
The proposed changes will come into effect from New Year’s Day at Marley Park, Hebburn, Wallsend and Birtley stations before being rolled out to other affected stations - including Sunderland Central and Rainton Bridge - by June.
Any more cuts are not an option if the people of Sunderland are to be safe.Julie Elliott
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “I’m very concerned about the proposed cuts to the number of firefighters to be stationed at Marley Park.
“The last time Tyne and Wear Fire Service cut the number of firefighters and equipment I said people would be less safe because of this.
“Any more cuts are not an option if the people of Sunderland are to be safe.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Robson said: “The safety of our communities and our firefighters is at the forefront of our decision-making. We use Integrated Risk Management Planning (IRMP) to balance use of our resources with the risk to those communities. In 2014, following comprehensive analysis and extensive public consultation, the Fire Authority approved an IRMP action to change crewing at certain stations.
“The introduction of this action was agreed to be paused while we dealt with other IRMP actions. Significant financial constraints placed on the authority now mean we are seeking approval to implement this action during 2018.”