Wiltshire fire crews say they're facing the biggest changes to the brigade in 70 years. They're worried about the impact of £1.8 million of cuts in the county.
The Fire Brigades Union warns the cuts would mean a reduction in front line firefighters and appliances being spread more thinly across the county.
The key concerns are over:
- Cuts to 'on call' retained firefighters which could see the loss of one in three full time equivalent posts.
- Plans to cut 30 whole time firefighter posts, one in six frontline posts;
- Cutting the number of aerial appliances (for use in buildings over 3 floors where fire engine ladders can't reach) from two to one would mean longer journey times before the only appliance could reach an incident.
- Removal of four emergency tenders used at road traffic incidents and building collapses.
- Halving the rope and water rescue team from 10 firefighters to 5 firefighters. The rope rescue team is used at buildings with difficult access.
- The creation of '96-hour shifts' for fire fighters, when they will be based at their fire station and unable to leave, except for emergencies. They will be granted visiting rights for families.
– Brent Thorley, FBU Brigade Secretary
"There is anger and concern amongst the firefighters in Wiltshire about the cuts proposed by senior managers. The cuts would see the loss of one in six whole-time station-based firefighters in Wiltshire leaving us with only 140 to provide around the clock emergency response".