Budget cuts 'will lead to loss of life' warns fire service union

BUDGET cuts will inevitably lead to unacceptable loss of life and property in Hertfordshire, a firefighters union has claimed.Tony Smith, the secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), delivered the stark warning after Hertfordshire County Council (H

BUDGET cuts will "inevitably lead to unacceptable loss of life and property" in Hertfordshire, a firefighters' union has claimed.

Tony Smith, the secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), delivered the stark warning after Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) announced plans to make significant savings - rumoured to be �6m over the next three years.

Fire service staff have already been asked for ideas on how their service could run more efficiently.

Mr Smith said: "It is unbelievable politicians think they can keep cutting the fire service budget every year without it having any effect on the service provided to the taxpayers of Hertfordshire.

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"We saw massive cuts in 2006 with two stations closing and the loss of 40 frontline firefighter posts and, having heard what is to come, firefighters are in no doubt the fire service will struggle to fulfil its responsibilities in the future.

"More cuts will put firefighters and the public at completely unacceptable levels of danger."

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He demanded a stop to cuts to the frontline fire service, and the "demoralising attacks" on firefighters' working conditions.

"We are calling on politicians to see sense and reverse their plans before someone loses their life unnecessarily," he said.

A spokesman for HCC said: "There are tough financial times ahead. We know we will have to find ways of saving money but at this time we don't know how much we will have to save or where the savings will come from, so for the FBU to be saying that cuts will be made at this stage is simply not true."

She said the council will be looking at how it delivers all its services and will determine if there are more efficient ways of delivering them.

She said staff are currently being consulted and asked for ideas on how services can run more efficiently, and that any savings identified will be the subject of full consultation with the public and all partners.

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