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Norfolk fire chief fears major cuts could put firefighter jobs at risk

11:24 22 October 2014

Norfolk

Norfolk's chief fire officer has warned if he has to make substantial cuts it would put firefighter jobs and engines at risk.

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Firefighter jobs and fire engines could be at risk if “substantial cuts” are forced on Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in the years ahead, the county’s chief fire officer has warned.

And Nigel Williams has revealed the fire service has 13 firefighter vacancies and has not recruited a full-time firefighter for eight years.

He made the comments as Norfolk County Council’s communities committee considered how to make nearly £900,000 of savings from
its budget, which includes spending on the fire service, over the next
year.

The fire service is expected to make £95,000 of savings in 2015/16, as the county council wrestles with making a further £13m of savings.

But, with gloomy predictions that the council will have to make up to £200m more savings in the years beyond that, Mr Williams issued a stark warning to councillors.

He said: “If we have to reduce the budget by any substantial amount that will reduce the number of
firefighters and fire engines we
have.

“Our service has not recruited a full-time member of staff for eight years. We have 13 vacancies and, in ordinary circumstances, we would have recruited to those posts.

“But, looking at the pressures going forward, we had held back on recruiting anybody because we felt
if there were any substantial
savings coming our way, it would
be foolhardy to fill those roles and then have to make the posts redundant.”

Mr Williams said the service was about to recruit to those posts, given the service had identified how to make the cuts needed next year.

But he warned longer-term cuts would harm the service. He said: “A fire engine can go out with four members of staff on it. However, there is good reason to try to maintain five as you can do more and maintain safety. Some fire and rescue services have gone down to four as the number they have on a fire engine and I have always resisted the temptation to do that.

“We have purchased fire engines with nine seats. It would be churlish to take it down to four and have half the seats empty.

“But it might be in the coming years we have to consider going down to four.”

Mr Williams said the council needed to “bite the bullet” and figure out a long-term plan for what the fire service would look like.

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7 comments

  • More cuts in front line services we need most, whilst we still have money to go to war? with over 100 billionaires and massive foodbanks it depicts a country of stark inequality.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, October 24, 2014

  • @Jonny. Lest ye forget the Tories are no longer in control of County Hall. It is in the hands of George Nobbs (Labour) and his motley band that make up the rainbow alliance. Can't blame the Tories for this one.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

  • Remember how quickly any of emergency services get blamed if something goes wrong....it risk reductions in frontline services is madness. Weren't the Tories & Liberals always saying the cuts they were imposing on local government would not lead to cuts in frontline services? What rubbish our Norfolk MPs should be ashamed of themselves for being members of such parties.

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

  • And don't forget that old favourite about how they spend all their time rescuing cats from trees.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

  • Bearing in mind how much firemen get paid and the benefits they receive v the time actually spend working, perhaps a pay reduction might assist balance the books.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

  • Usual stupid wind up comment i see.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

  • If you take into account how much time these people are regularly on strike , there is plenty of flexibility to absorb this reorganisation.

    Report this comment

    Sonia Head

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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