LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Dec 3, 2012) - Nearly seventy fire stations in England are at risk of closure and scores more throughout the UK face severe downgrading if the government presses ahead, as expected with unprecedented spending cuts, the Fire Brigades Union warns.
Public safety risks being compromised and a service the public relies on downgraded behind the scenes without proper public debate, the union is warning in a fresh analysis of cuts already announced and expected in fire and rescue services across the UK.
This suggests 69 fire stations in England are at risk of closure in the next two years, if the government carries out its plans to slash funding further, as expected in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday (December 5th).
The worst-hit brigades are in big cities, with 17 fire stations under threat in London, 11 in both West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and 10 in both Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Station closures are also threatened in Berkshire (5), Hertfordshire (2), North Yorkshire (1), Kent (1), and Dorset (1).
FBU officials have also reported that scores more fire stations are faced with downgrading. This means that the fire station looks the same as it did before, but behind the façade appliances are being removed, there are fewer firefighters riding on them, some stations are only crewed during the day and then mini-vans are replacing properly-equipped vehicles.
Looking further ahead, some fire authorities are planning to shut local fire stations and replace them with "super-stations", many miles from where people live.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: "People need to realise that this government is now putting public safety at risk. People rely on having a fire station near where they live, so that in the event of any emergency, professionally trained and well-equipped firefighters will come to their aid.
"The cuts have now gone so far that dozens of fire stations are threatened with closure, an unprecedented development in the recent history of our fire service. We cannot just stand back and watch this essential service be systematically dismembered by savage spending cuts.
"People need to understand that behind those big red doors, things are changing in their local fire station. Even where the lights remain on, there could be fewer firefighters, fewer appliances and less fire cover than the public expect.
"Firefighters have excelled again in recent weeks, dealing with floods as well as fires and all manner of emergencies. That''s what people expect from their fire and rescue service and firefighters are very proud to deliver an exceptional level of service. But this government is cutting the service to the point where they are putting lives at risk. That cannot be right and we have to warn of the consequences before it is too late."