Mid & West Wales firefighters raise concerns over cuts

Fire
Mid & West Wales have growing concern for public safety Photo: ITV News Wales

Firefighters from the Mid and West Wales Service say they have growing concerns for public safety.

It comes just a week after the Fire Brigades Union spoke of its worry about plans to replace some traditional fire engines with smaller vans.

The Chief Fire Officer of the service says the vans will improve firefighting capabilities, but the union disagrees with this.

Much of the service is now manned by so-called 'retained' fire crews.

These are not based at a station, but travel there from home or work to respond to an emergency.

Some full-time firefighters argue that though this saves money, it adds time and puts lives at risk.

There was a property fire in Newtown last year where it took thirteen minutes to get a fire appliance out of the station. If we full-time firefighters had attended, it would have taken one to two minutes.

– Anonymous Mid and West Wales firefighter

However, the Chief Fire Officer of the service says levels of emergency response have not changed.

But some firefighters say that the public's idea of the service is very different to theirs.

If you ask a member of the public their perception of the fire service, it's when they're in need, firefighters turn up in a fire truck to respond to any emergency situation. But the cuts could put that in jeopardy.

– Scott Edwards, firefighter

In Pontardawe firefighters claim that a change to working practices is potentially tiring and dangerous.

The traditional fire service model is like a 2,2,4. So you'll do two nine-hour days followed by two fifteen-hour days. And obviously within that you get to go home - you have rest periods. That's the current model. So you're working a 42 hour week."

– Tristan, firefighter

But the Chief Fire Officer argues that the traditional fire service model is actually based on a retained firefighter system and that those firefighters employed on a wholetime contract work a 42 hour week. Their conditions of service are negotiated nationally and comply with the law.