Fire chiefs unveil plans to save £5.5m
Union leaders have accused the Government of putting lives at risk across Devon and Somerset amid cuts to the service.
Yesterday Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority unveiled proposals to find £5.5 million worth of savings over the next two years, which will now go to public consultation.
Proposals include moving fire pumps from various stations to others while altering when and where full-time and part-time crews work.
While fire chiefs insisted the proposals did not stretch to fire stations closing, compulsory redundancies and the removal of fire engines, union leaders vented their fury at Whitehall.
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Bob Walker, chairman of Devon and Somerset Fire Brigades Union, said: "David Cameron is risking lives by forcing these cuts on the service. These proposals rely on 150 people leaving the service over the next two years. We're in a recession and people are holding onto their jobs. We will see voluntary redundancies and then compulsory.
"The proposals will see it taking longer to get appliances on the road – a delay of three minutes can be the difference between life and death."
Currently there are 800 full-time fire-fighters and 1,200 part-time.
Chief fire officer Lee Howell said: "These are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made.
"The proposals that have been agreed for public consultation today do not require closure of fire stations, removal of fire engines or compulsory redundancies.
"We aim to maintain or improve public safety by changing the way we do business and by crewing some fire engines differently, but like many other public and private organisations, we do have to operate with less money."
Consultation starts on January 28 and ends on April 22.