Cuts to fire service ‘could cost lives’

Ilkeston Fire fighters strike.
Ilkeston Fire fighters strike.

Cuts proposed by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service will have a massive impact on Ilkeston if they are given the go ahead according to a town firefighter.

Ben Keiller, vice chairman of the Derbyshire Fire Brigades Union, told the Advertiser that the FBU have ‘massive concerns’ over the future of the fire service after a public consultation was announced this week.

The plans could also see almost 80 firefighters’ jobs cut and 17 stations closed as bosses search to plug a 40 per cent reduction in the service’s budget by 2017.

A total of eight new bases would be built to replace the 17 across the county by 2022.

Bosses say the changes would make for a more “efficient” fire service.

Speaking to the Advertiser after the announcement, Chief Fire Officer Sean Frayne said that 30 new community safety officers would help drive down risk in any areas where changes would be made.

He added: “By ensuring DFRS has the best available resources, located in the most strategic locations throughout the county, I as Chief Fire Officer for Derbyshire, am satisfied that the service can continue to provide an excellent and effective service to our communities.”

Currently Derbyshire fire service aims to have one engine at the scene of a fire in 10 minutes in 80 per cent of calls.

If these latest proposals are approved that would drop to 75 per cent of occasions.

Ben Keiller, responded to Mr Frayne’s comments by saying: “We will continue to provide an excellent service but it will be five or maybe ten minutes later.

“A small fire will soon develop and spread if it is not dealt with quickly, there is a reason we have such fast response times.

“Slower response times equal higher risk.

“These changes could lead to lives being lost and one life lost is one too many.”

The FBU discovered the proposals at the time of the meeting and are set to meet and discuss a response next week.

Ben added: “I respect that there will be no redundancies and I appreciate that Mr Frayne has a tough job on his hands.

“No business could survive a 40 per cent budget cut, we as a union have serious concerns about the sustainability of DFRS.”