ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire -06/20/12)- The Fire Brigades Union is warning firefighters and members of the public to be extra careful following the unnecessary and highly provocative removal of frontline pieces of equipment and appliances. The message follows moves by senior managers of Essex Fire Service deciding to remove hydraulic cutting equipment from specialist Rescue Tenders across the entire County, and pumping appliances from training facilities that deliver risk critical training to firefighters on a full time basis.
Only two days after it was removed, cutting equipment from Colchester's Rescue Tender could have been used after the appliance was called to an incident where a girl had got her leg stuck in the frame of her bicycle. Instead firefighters had to rely on old fashioned crow bars.
Breathing apparatus training, flashover and backdraught training, and emergency fire appliance driver training have all been hit by the move. The most controversial, dangerous and provocative action so far is the removal of the Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) from Colchester fire station making it unavailable for any emergency incidents.
The whole of Essex north of Chelmsford is without aerial cover and will have to wait for Chelmsford's ALP as and when it is available. ALPs are higher reach appliances typically used for rescues, not just from fires but also other incidents, and for use as water towers to prevent fire spread and protect Firefighters from punishing conditions.
The FBU are warning that if anyone needs an ALP in the north of the Essex they will have to wait a very long time to be rescued, putting lives at risk and increasing risks to fire crews. To further add to the problem, firefighters do not have ladders they are allowed to climb, except for life rescue, that reach above 10.5 metres due to potentially serious defects that could affect taller ladders they currently carry on fire appliances.
It would mean, for example, that if the Harwich fire of last year was repeated the damage and number of affected properties could be even worse, or alternatively if there was a fire in a tower block such as the University of Essex then members of the public requiring rescuing may be left to wait at least 30 minutes longer than they should.
This highly provocative move comes at a time when no strike dates have been called and the Fire Brigades Union are working tirelessly, to reach a negotiated settlement without the need to take any further industrial action. A move which the Chief Fire Officer seems keen to destabilize and includes the immediate suspension of one firefighter at Southend who questioned why the Chief Fire Officer could not sit down and resolve the dispute.
07967 - 720363
Assistant Brigade Secretary