MORE firefighters’ jobs could be lost, it was claimed today.
And the Fire Brigades Union believes West Yorkshire could be one of the areas to suffer.
The fire service is in danger of reaching “breaking point” because of spending cuts, according to the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).
More than 1,000 firefighters’ jobs have been axed under the Government’s “savage” spending cuts, with fresh losses in the pipeline, the service’s main trade union has warned.
Research by the Fire Brigades Union, based on Freedom of Information Act questions, revealed more than 1,000 jobs were lost in the first round of cuts in April, with the hardest-hit areas including Yorkshire.
One in 10 jobs could be lost in the next three years, leading to several thousand fewer firemen and women across the UK, the union said.
The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “Fewer fire crews means it will take longer for the fire engine to arrive in response to a 999 call.
“There will be an ever-increasing risk to life, homes, businesses and our cultural and natural heritage as the cuts bite harder year after year.
“We’ve faced mass wildfires, terrible floods and freezing winter weather, which stretched fire crews for weeks.”
West Yorkshire’s fire chiefs agreed in January to the loss of over 150 posts by retirements and voluntary severance.
The slim-down – which includes both front-line and ‘back office’ staff – will help balance the books in 2011/12 as the fire authority struggles to cover a £5.3m loss in central government grant.
Job losses are mainly in areas where either workload has reduced or where services can be delivered more flexibly.
Clr Chris Townsley, who chairs the West Yorkshire fire authority’s Personnel and Training Committee, said: “There’s no doubt that the financial challenges facing the authority will demand radical solutions but I’m pleased that we’re making important initial steps in co-operation with our staff to ensure that wherever possible changes don’t impact on the level of service people have rightly come to expect from their brigade.”
The FBU said government grants to fire and rescue service budgets were being slashed by 25% in the next four years.
The job cuts – mostly losses through not replacing those who leave – cover retained and full-time firefighters, said the union.