Firefighters 'to strike' if major cuts go ahead

Firefighters in Cambridgeshire have warned they are prepared to take strike action if the Fire Authority agrees to “dangerous” cuts to frontline services tomorrow.

The Fire Brigades Union said the possible cuts would hit all parts of the county and would mean closing and downgrading fire stations, the loss of specialist rescue vehicles and more staff cuts.

It warned the public would inevitably have to wait longer for a fire crew after dialling 999.

Fire chiefs have announced a “worst case scenario” cuts plan if Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue has to find more than £4.2 million in savings and this will be put to the authority tomorrow.

But Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary, said Cambridgeshire firefighters had already made sacrifices to maintain frontline 999 services.

“Only last week fire crews reluctantly accepted the introduction of a new duty system with fewer firefighters employed overall to serve at frontline fire stations.”

He said crews expected the authority to oppose more frontline cuts.

The contingency plan involves axing second fire engines at St Ives, Ramsey and Soham and merging or closing some fire stations.

Chris Strickland, the deputy chief fire officer, said: “If we have to make cuts of more than £4.2 million we will be forced into a position where we have to start reducing frontline services, but we will do that in a measured way and in a way that will have minimal impact on the community.”

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